A proposal to bring a wind turbine to Camp Perry along the shores of Lake Erie is in the works, but it’s not sitting well with everyone.
Those against the project say it not only threatens wildlife, but it’s also a threat to an industry that generates tens of millions of dollars for the local economy.
A plan to bring a wind turbine to Camp Perry first surfaced in 2007.
According to leaders at the Black Swamp Bird Observatory, state and federal wildlife agencies turned the plan down.However, it re-surfaced in 2014.The fight has been on ever since.
Hundreds of millions of birds make a stop along the shores of Lake Erie during the spring and fall migrations. It brings tourists from all over the world to northwest Ohio who spend tens of millions of dollars. Kimberly Kaufman is the Executive Director of the Black Swamp Bird Observatory, “It would be a disaster of epic proportions for migrating birds that are already in trouble.”
Kaufman says solar, not wind power is the way to go to help protect the environment and the birds, “We are not saying no to renewable energy. We get the importance of it. However, we need to talk about the right renewable energy for this region, and it’s not wind power.”
The observatory is one of the organizations planning to sue to stop the turbine from going up, “We spent millions of dollars restoring the habitat on the lake shore.If we don’t work to protect it, what good is that? If we create the habitat and attract wildlife only to put up a barrier, then everybody loses.”
The proposal involves a 200 foot turbine to be installed at the Camp Perry Joint Training Center in Port Clinton. Kaufman says the base for the turbine has already been put in, without the necessary federal clearances, “Turbines are documented to pose a real threat to all kinds of birds. Not just little songbirds, but large birds like Bald Eagles and swans. Of course all of those birds are in our region.”
The fear is that the plan won’t end with just one turbine.Some believe the proposal could open the door for dozens, hundreds even thousands of turbines along the Lake Erie shoreline. Mark Shieldcastle spent decades working for the state of Ohio on the Bald Eagle restoration program. He is now the Research Director at the Blacks Swamp Bird Observatory,”No one is talking about just one turbine here. One turbine does not make a difference in climate change or energy portfolios.There’s a lot going on behind the scenes. I think there’s a lot more to it than what’s on the surface.”
Dianne Rozak is a Danbury Township Trustee and works for the state at the Marblehead Lighthouse, a popular spot for birders, “Anything like this would be devastating, especially devastating to tourism which is the number one industry in Ottawa County. It is embarrassing as a government employee to see another branch of government doing something like this, it’s ludicrous.”
Leaders at Camp Perry turned down our request for an on-camera interview, but did release a statement that reads in part.” The proposal was initiated to move toward generating more energy through renewable resources in order to meet guidelines set in multiple presidential executive orders.” The response goes on to say,”The Ohio Air National Guard strives to be a community partner and we take that role seriously. We appreciate the feedback from the local community and are committed to ensuring they are properly heard and considered throughout the process with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.”
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