A pair of power companies want to provide better service, but they might need to encroach on a valued wildlife refuge to do so.
The Midwest Transmission Project (MTP) held an open house Monday for the public to preview various potential routes for a new set of electrical lines that will run from Sibley, Mo., to Nebraska City, Neb., connected by an identified mid-point of the new Mullin Creek Substation south of Maryville, Mo.
One of the many potential routes proposed for the transmission line is one that will run two miles north of Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge through private land enrolled in the Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) and along the northern boundaries of private duck club land. The goal of the partnership project between Kansas City Power&Light and Omaha Public Power District is to build a new 140-170 mile long transmission line to provide electricity more efficiently to the region.
“Our three purposes are to improve system reliability,” said MTP-KCP&L project director Brent Davis, “cut down on constraints from bottle necks where electricity is not flowing as well as it should and to provide future opportunity for renewable resources like wind energy.”
Squaw Creek has recently found that swans can be negatively affected by power lines that are already in existence.
The majority of the migratory waterfowl that land on the refuge and surrounding areas fly in from the north and directly over that proposed area. In the spring of 2012, the refuge recorded 1.2 million geese that flew south onto the refuge.
The proposed power lines would provide a new and potentially dangerous obstacle. This winter, three trumpeter swans were found that had been killed by power lines on the boundaries of the refuge.
“That is just one species,” said refuge manager Ron Bell. “Who knows how many other birds are actually hitting these lines?”
The project will consist of two primary pole types.
The H-Frame will be used in Missouri which spans more than 1,000 feet with a height ranging from 60 to 100 feet. The smaller single pole will be constructed in Nebraska which spans 700 to 1,000 feet with a height of 90 to 150 feet.
“Before we put any lines on paper when we first started with our study area, we mapped out all the conservation areas. We wanted to avoid all those sensitive areas to make sure we were not impacting any wildlife,” said Joab Ortiz, an MTP community relations employee.
Mike Wolfe owns 80 acres of land north of Mound City, Mo., that could be affected by the proposed project.
With three generations of his family currently waterfowl hunting on their property, the Wolfe family remains is concerned the power lines will cause an obstruction to the birds.
“We’re interested in the entire ecosystem of the area including the privately owned land around Squaw Creek that is managed as wetlands seasonally,” said Corey Kudrna, wildlife refuge specialist. “The birds don’t just fly straight down to the refuge. They utilize the entire area.”The route will be finalized in the summer of 2013.
There will be two additional open houses on Jan. 29 in Auburn, Neb. and on Jan. 31 in Excelsior Springs, Mo. The Midwest Transmission Project will continue to receive public opinion through a toll-free hotline at (855) 222-1291 and by visiting ww.midwesttransmissionproject.com.