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Wind farms could destroy views, spaces, wildlife

Improperly sited wind-power projects would destroy Wyoming’s wide-open spaces, magnificent viewsheds, and incomparable wildlife. In letters to the Star-Tribune, several individuals have outlined the destruction Chokecherry and Sierra Madre would wreak if approved and constructed. I agree.

Another equally dangerous project is the so-called Pioneer Park Wind Power Project in the Laramie Mountains south of Glenrock. sPower from Salt Lake City wants to build a 42-turbine facility, which would obliterate marvelous viewsheds in a spectacular natural setting. It has viable populations of bald and golden eagles. Both species are protected under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act.

According to Dr. Michael Hutchins, Director of Bird-Smart Wind Energy Campaign for American Bird Conservancy, “… golden eagle populations are not well-studied or understood, so there is a glaring lack of information on which to base siting (of wind-power projects – parentheses mine) and other decisions.”

The U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service must take this into account, when considering any incidental take permit allowing eagle kills (prohibited under the Act) for Pioneer Park. Moreover, FWS should tell the public what it considers an accurate estimate of bald and golden eagle populations in the Boxelder and Lower Deer Creek drainages, the areas which would be affected by this project. How does it know this?

Only an Environmental Impact Statement by FWS could begin to assess the issue of a take permit for sPower’s proposed installation. A project of this magnitude is as environmentally damaging as was that of the Deer Creek Dam, which required an EIS.

Despite what FWS asserts, an Environmental Assessment would be inadequate. FWS must complete an EIS as soon as possible and open a public comment, before sPower tries to begin construction under the radar. After all, it faces a construction-completion deadline by year’s end, because of its agreement with Pacific Power.

A question for FWS’s Denver regional office: Has sPower made application for an incidental take permit? If it has, I call upon the agency not to grant one. This would be politically unpopular, but it would be the correct and moral decision.

As many members of the public as possible should oppose Pioneer Park during the public comment period. This monstrous installation must be defeated.