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Delta County Wind Monitor

Advocating for Residents in Wind Turbine Zones

Contact Your Officials

COUNTY COMMISSIONERS

310 Ludington Street, Escanaba, MI 49829 Phone: 789-5100

Commissioner District 1 / John Malnar: malnar.john62(at)gmail.com

Commissioner District 2 / Patrick Johnson, Gladstone, pjohnson(at)deltacountymi.org

Commissioner District 3 / Mary K. Harrington, Vice Chairman: mharrington(at)deltacountymi.org

Commissioner District 4 / David J. Moyle: dmoyle(at)chartermi.net / Phone: 235-8427 

Commissioner District 5 / David J. Rivard: koi(at)charter.net

PLANNING COMMISSION

Julian Vandecaveye 11314 Hwy. M-35, Perkins, MI 49872 Phone: 359-4477

Benny Herioux 2324 17th Road, Bark River, MI 49807 Phone: 786-5671

Patrick Connor, City of Escanaba Appointment 3405 8th Avenue South, Escanaba, MI 49829 Phone:399-2787

John Denholm 2676 II Road, Garden, MI 49835 Phone: 644-7198

Renee Barron 2948 St. Nicholas 31st Rd, Rock, MI 49880 Phone: 359-4602

Randy Scott 7722 Summit 19.55 Dr., Gladstone, MI 49837 Phone: 428-2414

David Moyle, County Board Representative 1501 1st Avenue South, Escanaba, MI 49829 Phone: 235-8427  email: dmoyle(at)chartermi.net

Dan Menacher, Building & Zoning Administrator 310 Ludington Street, Escanaba, MI 49829 Phone: 789-5189

Contact Heritage Wind Energy

Marty Lagina, Founder and Chief Executive: 

info@heritagewindenergy.com

Rick Wilson, VP Operations:

Rick@heritagewindenergy.com

Eagle watches over Garden Bay 1 Mile from Turbines - May 16, 2015

Eagle spotted in turbine zone April 8, 2015

This eagle feasts on the carcass of a deer just yards from Turbines G12 and G8 in the Garden Wind Farm on April 8, 2015. 

Bald Eagles in Garden Wind Turbine Zone

Two bald eagles rest on the far haystack in spring 2014 on this farm surrounded by fourteen wind turbines in Garden Township, Michigan. Bottom photo shows relationship of haystack and eagles to turbines.

Birds are Big Losers in a Wind Turbine Zone

"In addition, it appears that there is a greater risk of fatal collisions with taller turbines. This is a real problem, as larger wind turbines may provide more efficient energy generation. Consequently, it is expected that new wind farms will contain even bigger turbines, which will result in even more bird deaths. Future developments therefore will have to give very careful consideration to potential wildlife impacts when planning the type of turbine to install."

--Blog 'Natural Reactions' as quoted in the Smithsonian    

Read more...

Vulture Collides with Wind Turbine

Bats are Biggest Losers in the Wind Zone

Northern Long-eared Bat Listed by USFWS as Threatened

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced it is protecting the northern long-eared bat as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), primarily due to the threat posed by white-nose syndrome, a fungal disease that has devastated many bat populations.

“Bats are a critical component of our nation’s ecology and economy, maintaining a fragile insect predator-prey balance; we lose them at our peril,” said Service Director Dan Ashe. “Without bats, insect populations can rise dramatically, with the potential for devastating losses for our crop farmers and foresters. The alternative to bats is greater pesticide use, which brings with it another set of ecological concerns.”

In the United States, the northern long-eared bat is found from Maine to North Carolina on the Atlantic Coast, westward to eastern Oklahoma and north through the Dakotas, reaching into eastern Montana and Wyoming. Throughout the bat’s range, states and local stakeholders have been some of the leading partners in both conserving the long-eared bat and addressing the challenge presented by white-nose syndrome.

“Michigan and other states collaboratively worked to provide critical information as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service evaluated the status of the northern long-eared bat,” said Keith Creagh, Director of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. “The decision to list the bat as threatened with an interim 4(d) rule represents a biologically sound determination that will address the conservation needs of these bats while providing flexibility for those who live and work within the bats’ range. Looking ahead, we expect to continue working closely with the Service as we focus on finding the right solutions to this conservation challenge.”

The Service proposed the northern long-eared bat as “endangered” in October 2013 following severe population declines that have seen the species disappear from some traditional hibernation sites. However, during its review, the Service determined the northern long-eared bat meets the definition of “threatened.” Under the Act, an endangered species is currently in danger of becoming extinct, while a threatened species is likely to become endangered in the foreseeable future.

“In making this decision, we reviewed the best available scientific information on the northern long-eared bat, including information gathered from more than 100,000 public comments,” said the Service’s Midwest Regional Director Tom Melius. “We are listing this species because a disease – white-nose syndrome – is spreading and decimating its populations. We designed the 4(d) rule to provide appropriate protection within the area where the disease occurs for the remaining individuals during their most sensitive life stages, but to otherwise eliminate unnecessary regulation.”

The listing becomes effective on May 4, 2015, 30 days after publication of the final listing determination in the Federal Register.

Some human activities also impact these species, particularly close to their hibernation sites, creating heightened challenges for bat populations already weakened by disease and underscoring the need to protect important habitat while research continues to develop a cure for white-nose syndrome.    

Under the ESA, the Service may implement special rules under section 4(d) for wildlife listed as threatened. Such rules enable the Service to tailor protections of the ESA to those that are “necessary and advisable to provide for the conservation of such species.” They also enable prohibitions that do not further the conservation of the species to be relaxed, reducing the regulatory burden on the public.

Read the full article...

Federally Protected Birds at Risk from Expansion of Wind Development Near Lake Michigan

MEDIA RELEASE

Contact: Robert Johns, 202-888-7472 

(Washington, D.C., September 3, 2014) Two bird species federally listed as endangered, the Piping Plover and Kirtland’s Warbler, as well as many other federally protected birds are at risk from the proposed expansion of Heritage Sustainable Energy’s (HSE) Garden Peninsula Wind Energy Project near Lake Michigan, according to American Bird Conservancy (ABC).

The warning from ABC came in a letter provided by the organization to U.S. Fish and Wildlife (FWS) Service Midwest Regional Director, Tom Melius.

The Garden Peninsula Wind Energy Project is located in Delta County, Mich., on the northern shores of Lake Michigan. The development presently consists of 14 turbines, each 485 feet tall, built in 2011-2012. The proposed action would expand the development with additional turbines of the same size in at least two more nearby locations.

ABC says that expansion would threaten a major route traveled by migratory birds and raptors, including federally protected Bald Eagles. The endangered Piping Plover and Kirtland’s Warbler, as well as the eastern red bat, occur in this area, triggering serious Endangered Species Act (ESA) concerns.

ABC’s letter, which was signed by Dr. Michael Hutchins, National Coordinator of ABC’s Bird Smart Wind Energy Campaign, says that this wind project may be “... another glaring example of the failure of the current voluntary guidelines to protect our public trust resources. The poor siting of this project, along with the failure of HSE to develop appropriate conservation plans, is an egregious violation of the voluntary guidelines, and the prospect of HSE greatly expanding this project is even more worrisome.”

“There are relatively few places where wind development would be much worse for birds than Michigan’s Garden Peninsula,” said Hutchins. “The development is in a key migratory corridor, is located very near another such corridor, and is in close proximity to three designated Important Bird Areas, including a critical breeding area for the endangered Kirtland’s Warbler, which lies just to the east.”

The project was strongly opposed by FWS in a November 4, 2011, letter to project developers. FWS stated: “... construction of a commercial wind energy development on Garden Peninsula is likely to pose a very high risk for avian mortalities, including a high risk for Bald Eagle mortalities. ... you have failed to sufficiently collect and analyze comprehensive information concerning avian use of the project area prior to construction. ... the Service recommends that you reevaluate your project and select an alternative location with less potential for impacts to federally protected wildlife.”

Hutchins hopes that the project will “trigger intensive monitoring efforts by FWS to ensure that federally protected species are not being impacted. Furthermore, if any federally protected species are killed in the absence of incidental take permits, then HSE should receive the maximum penalties under the law, including the threat of a complete and permanent shutdown.”

Landowners who live in close proximity to the Garden Peninsula turbines have now engaged a legal team to help in their battle with wind developers. “Homeowners are experiencing declines in their quality of life because of the turbines, and they are concerned about impacts to birds, especially eagles and endangered species, due to the placement of the turbines in a migratory flyway,” said attorney Susan Hlywa Topp, who along with attorney Michelle Halley represents residents of the Garden Peninsula. 

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Native American Group concerned about Wind Turbines on Garden Peninsula

Bird group proposes ‘legally defensible’ overhaul of federal eagle program

Source: By Scott Streater, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, August 8, 2014

A leading bird conservancy group has submitted a detailed plan to the Fish and Wildlife Service that includes revisions to its hotly debated eagle “take” rule that allows wind and other energy projects to injure, kill or disturb bald eagles for up to 30 years.

The American Bird Conservancy’s 18-point plan, outlined in a formal comment letter sent yesterday to Fish and Wildlife, also calls for adopting mandatory conditions for siting wind projects instead of the current voluntary guidelines that the group says in the letter are “hindering FWS’ ability to do its important job of protecting our nation’s public trust resources, including its ecologically-important native birds and bats.”

“If there is one thing recent months have shown us, it is that some in the wind industry have shown little to no respect for or adherence to the voluntary regulatory guidelines now in place,” Michael Hutchins, national coordinator of ABC’s Bird Smart Wind Energy Campaign, said today in a statement.

Hutchins wrote the 11-page comment letter sent to Fish and Wildlife.

“Wind energy developments are going up in places they never should have and with little to no consideration for our native birds and bats,” he added. “As a result, we are calling for an end to the voluntary approach and for the establishment of mandatory guidelines, among other things, to better regulate the industry.”

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American Bird Conservancy sites Heritage in letter to U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

"Similarly, ABC has recently been made aware of the Heritage Garden Wind Energy Site on the Garden Peninsula near Lake Michigan. Also on private land, this facility was built in an important bird conservation area, and is now looking to expand. According to our sources, this poorly-placed wind energy site was built in 2011-2012 with no EA, no Environmental Impact Statement, no Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP), and no incidental take-permits. This is despite the fact that endangered Kirtland’s Warblers and Piping Plovers are present and tens of thousands of migratory birds pass through the area each year, including eagles and other raptors. We find it problematic that such a facility was apparently grandfathered in under the new guidelines. Any proposed expansion of this site should make the entire project subject to intense scrutiny under the new rules. In addition, bird mortality at this site should be closely monitored, and in the absence of the issuance of any incidental take permit under the ESA or BGEPA, prosecuted or even shut down if federally-protected birds are being taken."

Read the whole letter...

Heritage Wind Energy Informed of Garden Township Citizens' Intent to Sue

July 2014: Concerned Citizens of Garden recently announced their intention to sue Heritage Wind Energy for alleged violation of the Endangered Species Act among other allegations.

The organization hired Susan Topp, an environmental attorney from Gaylord, Michigan, to represent them against Heritage Sustainable Energy.  

Where will the next phase be built?

Yellow highlighted areas show leaseholder land.

Video of June 2014 Wind Energy Presentation in Delta County