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Circle Power’s new proposal for wind turbines: Impact on wildlife

Bullit Marquez/AP Photo This Sunday, March 14, 2010, photo shows “Girlie,” a 29-year-old Philippine Eagle at the Parks and Wildlife Center at Manila’s Quezon City. Eagles and other birds of prey could be at the center of a discussion locally on windmills Monday.

ADAMS TOWNSHIP — Circle Power recently revised a proposal to construct twelve 575-foot industrial wind turbines in Adams Township. Their original environmental permit was denied for reasons including: significant adverse effects on fish and wildlife, and unacceptable disruption to aquatic resources.  

Circle Power states they are negotiating with regulators for a new permit. 

“What is different now?” asked Guardians of Keweenaw Ridge Secretary James Mihelcic. “The only change we noted was several turbines were moved east of the existing transmission line, closer to towns along M26.”

“Federal guidelines clearly state wind projects should avoid critical areas of wildlife congregation,” said Mihelcic.  

Regulators had already commented about the multiple bat hibernacula in local mines and the significant implications the location could have on bat populations. Mihelcic also pointed out “industrial wind turbines are now the second largest killer of bats in the U.S.”  

The forest at the proposed project is enrolled in the commercial forest program; therefore, it is currently accessible to the public (by foot) for fishing and hunting. Residents report seeing deer, moose, bear, wolf, fisher, badger, grouse, and multitudes of birds and raptors at the proposed site.    

The project should negatively impact local fishing and hunting. One potential impact is silting of the Salmon Trout River and its tributaries.

Research has documented declines in ruffed grouse numbers because of collisions with turbine towers and avoidance of wind developed areas. A study in the Dakotas found wind development reduced duck abundance and breeding pairs, consistent with behavioral avoidance. 

Turbine noise also increases cortisol levels in some mammals, indicating a stress response. This may make mammals more susceptible to infection and disease.

Mitigation methods are proposed by wind developers to decrease impacts on local wildlife. However, the location still remains a critical area of wildlife congregation. 

This is why the National Audubon Society filed a lawsuit in November to prevent a new wind project in California, that project was similarly sited in a well-established wildlife corridor.

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