I would generally be one of the last people to oppose renewable energy, but I am opposed to the Summit Ridge Wind Turbine project. While renewable energy is surely the way to go for many reasons, we must choose sites that don’t harm the environment in other ways. The Summit Ridge project does not meet those requirements.
Building this project along the edge of the Wild and Scenic Deschutes River will kill an untold number of birds and bats, including bald and golden eagles. In 2010, the US Fish and Wildlife Service recommended that turbines for this project be located at least six miles away from any golden eagle nest. The developers are not complying with this recommendation.
There has never been an on-the-ground field survey for wildlife habitat for this project. Developers have relied on desktop surveys, aerial photos, and GIS information. This is not sufficient. Additionally, it has been 10 years since the last surveys were done for birds and bats. While this project has been delayed multiple times because developers did not have a buyer for their power, the initial surveys have become outdated.
Those of us who have lived in the gorge for 40 or more years have witnessed the amazing comeback of osprey and eagles after their populations were decimated by DDT. These birds are not only a wonderful sight to see, they also bring tourists to the area—and, more importantly, they are a necessary part of a healthy ecosystem. Let’s not sacrifice one environmental cause for another. Summit Ridge is the wrong site for a wind turbine project. There are plenty of other windy places in this region.
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