I would like to follow up on Dan Crowley’s excellent recent article (“Metal mountain? ‘Tower farm’ grows again on Mt. Tom,” Gazette, June 2) on the proposed wind turbines on Mount Tom. The Mount Tom ridgeline, a migratory bottleneck, is part of one of the most important hawk migration flyways in the Northeast.
The observation tower on Goat Peak has been recognized as the premier location in our region to observe this annual hawk migration, an event that has been happening for millennia. Beginning in late August and continuing into November, tens of thousands of hawks fly south along this flyway. Many hawk species hunt along the ridgeline and large numbers roost in Mount Tom’s forests each night.
Proponents of the wind turbine project will tell you that the hawks fly well above the turbine blades and are out of harm’s way. Not true. Here is a quote from Joseph A. Hagar, ornithologist, Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Game, in an article titled “Hawks at Mount Tom” published in the 1940s for the Bulletin of the Massachusetts Audubon Society.
“… I would point out to the observer how the Holyoke Range seems to gather up and pour across the river toward Mt. Tom all the hawks that come down the east side of the valley and strike at any point along its length of six or eight miles. In the four best days last fall thirteen species were within forty yards of the tower … and a fully adult Bald Eagle went majestically past the west side of the tower so close that I could see its every feather.”
Based on personal observations, I can state that this scenario is as true today as it was back then.
Wind turbines can provide an excellent source of renewable energy and their placement should be pursued where appropriate. However, Mount Tom is not an appropriate site. Scientists have recently told us that the Mount Tom ridgeline produces the best wind in our region; the migrating hawks have known this for centuries.
Wind turbine blades and large numbers of migrating raptors are not compatible. Period.
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