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The controversial use of windmills as an alternative energy source has prompted an outcry from bird experts.
The Ohio Supreme Court recently decided to allow windmills at Firelands Wind LLC for its Emerson Creek Wind Farm in Huron County, and found “it does not pose a threat to migrating birds,” according to a news release.
The high court’s decision will allow for the construction of a 71-turbine wind farm that spans across portions of Huron and Erie counties.
Meanwhile, Lorain County commissioners are examining how the decision will affect Lorain County residents.
On Aug. 1, the commissioners unanimously approved a resolution to provide the public notice regarding consideration for taking action to prohibit large solar facilities, economically significant wind farms and large wind farms in the unincorporated territory of Lorain County.
A meeting is scheduled for 5 p.m., Sept. 5.
Experts at Black Swamp Bird Observatory are opposed to the recent decision by the state Supreme Court to uphold the decision to allow windmills claiming it will put millions of migratory birds, including bald eagles, at risk.
“We agree that our nation must reduce greenhouse gas emissions to address global warming, according to the release. “But wind turbines are not the only renewable energy option available for cleaner energy production.
“In areas where massive numbers of birds migrate, such as the proposed site and the lakeshore region in general, there are alternative renewable energy options, specifically distributed solar, that can be utilized on our already developed infrastructure. Climate change should not be used as a reason to excuse negligent bird and bat mortalities.”
In a letter addressed to the commissioners Aug. 4 by Rob Swindell, president of the Black River Audubon Society, he warned that windmills “can be particularly harmful to migrating songbirds and large raptors, including bald eagles.”
“Lorain County and Lake Erie border two major flyways (Atlantic and Mississippi), which in the spring and fall witness the migration of millions of songbirds, predominantly at night,” Swindell wrote.
While the society supports alternative energy use, it wants the birds protected from any negative impact of the installation of windmills.
In Lorain County, there are more than 425 square miles of Lake Erie that fall into the county’s jurisdiction, Commission President Dave Moore said at the Aug. 1 meeting.
The commission is exploring exactly where the area in Lake Erie is located as it moves forward with its study.
“Black River Audubon supports economic growth and responsible renewable energy as an efficient measure to fight climate change to the extent that it does not negatively impact birds and other wildlife,” Swindell wrote to the commissioners. “As such, we respectfully request to be included in any conversation or proposals for the installation of windmill farms in Lorain County.
“We would rather work together from the onset to consider the interests of both conservation and economic development. Any plans for a windmill farm should include the latest objective research to ensure that any impact on birds would be minimal.”
Swindell’s letter continued that research was conducted in an effort to diminish the threat to birds such as changing the color of the blades on windmills and keeping them off at night during migration seasons.
“For birds who spend a significant part of their lives on the wing, including their often thousand-mile migration, the air column is a part of their habitat and needs to be protected,” Swindell wrote.
He also pointed out birdwatching is a $40 billion a year hobby and provides residents with a therapeutic through birdwatching.
“North America has lost one in four birds, almost three billion birds, since 1970,” Swindell wrote. “Of particular impact are songbirds, of which 2.5 billion have vanished.
“They face challenges such as habitat destruction, window (and) car collisions, pesticide (and) insecticide poisoning, plastic pollution and domestic cats. For them, the world is a dangerous place and already out of balance.
“Even in our pursuit of renewable energy, we have a responsibility to not make it worse for them.”
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