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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Golden Eagle and West Butte Wind Project

Jan 24, 2012

The West Butte wind project is a 104 megawatt project 30 miles east of Bend that will have approximately 50 wind turbines associated with it. This project has recently been in the news because the developer voluntarily applied for a permit that allows for the “take” of golden eagles at the site if it provides adequate mitigation to ensure no net loss of birds.

Unfortunately, Golden eagles and other birds die every year due to collisions with wind turbines. We believe U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, in implementing the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, needs to do something to address these impacts. Until this permit, eagle collisions were not addressed adequately at wind farms. This first-ever permit is intended be a mechanism in which the agency can monitor and protect populations.

The permit will have conditions, monitoring, and mitigation requirements attached to it. Therefore, the hope is that it will make the developer accountable for their impacts on wildlife. Overall, this is a more responsible approach to siting wind projects than what has been previously acceptable. We hope these permits will become a required part of wind project applications and we will be commenting on the agency’s methodology and other elements of the draft environmental assessment.
The Environmental Assessment is located HERE and how to comment by Feb.2 is HERE.

Why is ONDA not opposing the West Butte Project?

Based on our analysis of wildlife surveys and due to features of the project, including its close proximity to transmission, we feel the West Butte project will have fewer impacts compared to other proposed sites. While we are still concerned about all impacts associated with wind project development, we feel the developer, Crook County, the Bureau of Land Management, and U.S. FWS are working toward appropriate processes to evaluate and monitor impacts and develop micro-siting and mitigation that will minimize overall impacts.

ONDA supports responsible renewable energy that has low impacts on our environment. We feel renewable energy is needed to lessen our reliance on fossil fuels, mitigate our growing carbon footprint in the face of climate change, and create local green jobs.

(Feb 17 Update - we have reviewed the draft Environmental Assessment and determined that the Fish and Wildlife Service did not collect enough data or perform the analysis necessary for this permit, nor did it provide adequate monitoring and mitigation for the project.  In our comments, we have asked the agency to collect more information and correct these errors before issuing a permit)

For questions contact the ONDA office, 541-330-2638, Liz Nysson, liznysson@onda.org or Matt Little, matt@onda.org

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