Recently the Town of Shelby hosted a meeting to seek public opinion about a proposed pair of 650-foot-tall wind turbines along Route 63 just south of Medina. We were given very brief notice about this meeting and the proposed site is on the land of the Shelby town supervisor (what? that doesn’t sound right!). I attended the meeting and listened to a lot of theories and promises by the individuals who represented the developer, California-based Borrego (which doesn’t sound like a good thing as that state has a reputation for generating a lot of weird ideas).
Right off I will say that I’m very concerned about these wind turbines. The proposed site is less than 4 miles from Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge and the two adjacent state Wildlife Management areas (Tonawanda and Oak Orchard). These areas, containing more than 19,000 acres, are prime wildlife habitat for all kinds of waterfowl, shore birds, many other types of birds, deer, turkey, fur bearers, reptiles and a variety of unique plant life, and they attract a lot of attention from the public which gets to view and enjoy nature.
These areas contain bald eagles, which not only nest but hunt for food there. Less than a quarter mile from the turbine sites is Oak Orchard Creek, which comes out of these refuge areas. This creek is used by many waterfowl species and raptors, to feed, rest and reproduce.
I have been quite involved with the bald eagle in the area for more than 35 years. I was instrumental in the setup of the camera on one of the local nest sites. Thousands of people got to watch the action at the nest through the TV monitor at INWR headquarters. That nest activity was also recorded at the time and guess who got the job of reviewing all of those VHS tapes (hundreds of hours) and making an hour-long tape of the whole nesting season? I learned a lot about eagles from that task and my fascination with them has only increased with time.
I also have monitored eagle nests in the refuge areas and others nearby for a long time. Lots of observation and photographing has taught me a great deal about eagles and how they hunt. I have seen them in dangerous close encounters with other eagles, as well as trees and vehicles, while hunting. Their attention is on their prey and many times they don’t see other dangers in their path.
There are 11 nests that I monitor for the state, and some are as close as 5 miles from this proposed turbine site. I have real concerns about this as eagles will travel quite far – upwards of 75 miles – to hunt during nesting season, when their job is to obtain food for the eaglets.
Eagles have not had a good 2022 in this area due to poor nesting outcomes, the worst I have ever seen. Lead poisoning, avian flu (to which raptors are very sensitive) and the lack of predator guards on their nesting trees to protect them from raccoons and now fishers … I believe all of this has put the bald eagle in jeopardy again.
It’s a proven fact that eagles are susceptible to wind turbines so why are we thinking of posing more dangers to them?
There is another reason why I’m not happy with this proposed project. Companies in recent years have had the habit of selling out to another outfit when things get non-profitable and then the rules all change. So, down the road, all these “great” things promised to us change. I have heard that Borrego is in the process of selling out right now.
And suppose New York State, or even our country, goes to totally “clean” energy sources to prevent global warming. What about the rest of the world that is growing stronger on fossil fuels, or volcanoes erupting and putting out more “dirty” gases than we are? My feeling is this “clean” air stuff is just a big money-making deal.
Another concern of mine is the noise and light flicker that wind turbines produce. Folks in states that have a lot of these turbines (Iowa, for one) are now starting to complain.
At this meeting the Borrego reps handed out a booklet of pictures showing these huge turbines at various sites. I got a kick out of those pictures as any serious photographer knows how to make things look bigger or smaller than they really are by using wide angle lenses. So, if we’re being deceived about how these things look, what else will we be deceived about?
I live in the Orleans countryside because I really enjoy the views, the wildlife, the sunrises and sunsets. I think many people in Orleans County feel the same way. Put those turbines in the cities and other places where folks don’t appreciate Mother Nature. If I want to see these intrusive, huge, manmade structures, I will travel to the places where they have already destroyed the view.
Doug Domedion, outdoorsman and nature photographer, resides in Medina.
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding