In an ongoing battle against a wind farm in Osage County, the Osage Nation gained a partnership with The Nature Conservancy’s Oklahoma chapter on Tuesday.
Mike Fuhr, state director of The Nature Conservancy, said the organization is all for wind farms and other forms of green energy, but he contended that such farms should be built in areas that are less environmentally sensitive.
“Wind development is a good thing,” Fuhr said. “But I think there are wind farms that are sited poorly. We’re working to get them to move the wind farms to a suitable place.”
Fuhr met with Osage Nation leaders Tuesday during the National Congress of American Indians at the Cox Business Center in downtown Tulsa to sign a memorandum of understanding that they would work in tandem to protect prairie lands in Oklahoma.
The Osage Nation, which has longstanding interests in oil and gas, is pushing for full archaeological research on a proposed wind farm’s acreage near Burbank in Osage County.
It says the area hosts some of the densest concentration in Oklahoma of culturally significant tribal sites such as camps and burial grounds.
The St. Louis-based Wind Capital Group wants to erect 94 wind-energy turbines at the location.
The Osage Nation has fought wind-farm development for years on multiple fronts, including for the conservation of culturally sensitive areas and the protection of eagles.
“We want to see the prairie protected,” Fuhr said. “Prairies are the least-protected, most-converted habitat type in the world.”
Osage Nation Assistant Chief Scott BigHorse said getting The Nature Conservancy to work alongside the tribe is one of its biggest achievements in the years of fighting wind-farm development.
“We understand that industry will come in, but they have to come and sit down at the table,” he said.
BigHorse said the Osage Nation has worked with The Nature Conservancy for years, and their newly forged agreement “is a perfect fit.”
“This is our last stand,” he said. “We’ve been moved, and moved, and moved.
“We feel like we should have a 50-50 partnership with the state and the federal government on what happens in Osage County.”
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