The American Bird Conservancy today listed the proposed Merricourt wind energy project in southeast North Dakota as one of the 10 “worst-sited existing and proposed commercial wind energy projects from the perspective of bird conservation.”
The conservancy in its report said it listed the proposed North Dakota project because of its threat to the endangered whooping crane and other federally protected birds.
The report further went on to say:
“This highly controversial project, which could involve the first incidental take permit for the Endangered Whooping Crane and which has already drawn the concern of conservation organizations, lies within the Whooping Crane migratory corridor and could also impact other federally protected birds including Piping Plovers, Sprague’s Pipits, and Bald and Golden Eagles. The project would also be located in a key migratory corridor for vast numbers of waterbirds in North Dakota’s sensitive Prairie Potholes region. ABC and the International Crane Foundation expressed serious concerns to FWS about the revival of this project in November 2014, citing it as “another potential example of the failure of the current voluntary guidelines to protect our native bird species.”
The 10 projects in the report include five already built and five proposed. Besides the proposed North Dakota project, other wind projects listed in the report are located in California, Hawaii, Kansas, Massachusetts, Missouri, New York, North Dakota, Texas, West Virginia, and Wyoming.
“ABC supports Bird-Smart wind, and it is not our intention to criticize the concept of renewable wind development in general or the developers of the specific projects included in the list,” Mike Parr, the conservancy’s vice president and chief conservation officer, said in a news release. “Rather, this list is intended to demonstrate that, under the present voluntary guidelines, there is an inadequate system of checks and balances to protect American native birds from poorly planned wind development on a large scale.
“These projects are illustrative of a much broader problem,” Parr continued, “and have been selected to illustrate a range of threats to birds in various regions and habitats – threats that are unfortunately widespread in the wind industry.”
The conservancy’s initial report inadvertently included the King Ranch in southern Texas but sent out a correction this afternoon indicating the ranch actually had been involved in fighting the Gulf Wind facility on the nearby Kenedy Ranch. The full revised report is available in a PDF format here.
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