Northwest Missouri has proven welcoming of large wind farm operations in the past – several are visible on a drive through the region – but there are limits to our hospitality.
Key measures of whether wind developers will be accepted are whether they openly communicate about concerning aspects of their proposed installations, demonstrate respect for our irreplaceable natural assets, and work with state and federal experts who advocate for our interests.
On this score, the Rock Creek Wind Project in Atchison County, Missouri, recently has made headway but still has work to do for it to have support of area residents.
A large developer of wind and solar projects, Tradewind Energy of Lenexa, Kansas, is planning the wind turbine installation between Tarkio in the center of the county and Tarkio Prairie Conservation Area in the eastern part of the county. The company says about 100 landowners will be directly involved and collecting royalty payments once all phases of the 30,000-acre project are completed.
Concerns were aired in a recent News-Press story. The Missouri Department of Conservation reported the proposed project is in the migratory corridor for birds that fly from Iowa into Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge. The department also is concerned for bats in nearby forested areas.
Tradewind says it has studies indicating the project will have “no material effect” on any threatened or endangered species, however the company has not released a conservation assessment.
Recently, the company told The Associated Press it has been conducting bird and bat surveys in consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and state Department of Natural Resources. It said it will work with Fish and Wildlife to create an eagle conservation plan and bird and bat conservation strategy to minimize the project’s impact.
The company also said it intends to apply for a voluntary permit for unintentional eagle deaths that could result from turbine operations. As the News-Press has reported, such permits enable efforts to be launched in other areas to offset the species impacted.
These recent statements are helpful, but Tradewind Energy has far more to do in convincing the public this project will fit well with Northwest Missouri’s important natural assets. Until the Missouri Department of Conservation is more comfortable with what is being proposed, don’t expect the rest of us to be either.
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