5/15/11 Hello wind turbines! Good-bye Wisconsin bats! Hello corn borer, crop loss, more pesticides-- but hey, as long as the wind developers are happy it must be good AND This is how we do it: PR firm gives helpful hints on how to infiltrate communities
Click on the image above to watch Wisconsin Public Television report on bats and wind turbines
WIND TURBINES THREATEN WISCONSIN BATS
READ ENTIRE STORY AT THE SOURCE: Green Bay Press-Gazette, www.greenbaypressgazette.com
May 15, 2011
by Tony Walter,
Wind turbine industry reports filed with the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin indicate that a significant number of bats fall victim to the turbine blades every night, which could mean crop losses.
The rate of bat mortality has a major impact on the agricultural industry, according to a U.S. Geological study recently published in Science Magazine.
The study, conducted by Boston University’s biology department, estimated that insect-eating bats save the agricultural industry at least $3 billion a year.
“Because the agricultural value of bats in the Northeast is small compared with other parts of the country, such losses could be even more substantial in the extensive agricultural regions in the Midwest and the Great Plains where wind-energy development is booming and the fungus responsible for white-nose syndrome was recently detected,” said Tom Kunz, an ecology professor at Boston University and co-author of the study.
White nose syndrome is a disease believed to kill and sicken bats, which first was noticed in Albany, N.Y., in 2006, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The source of the condition remains unclear, the agency said.
According to studies by Current Biology, National Geographic and Science Daily, bats can be killed without being struck by a turbine blade. The studies concluded that air in low-pressure areas near the tips of the blades ruptures the bats’ lungs and causes internal hemorrhaging.
In PSC reports obtained by the Green Bay Press-Gazette, a post-construction bat mortality study of the Wisconsin Power and Light Company’s Cedar Ridge Wind Farm in Fond du Lac County, conducted by the power company, showed that 50 bats are killed annually by each of the project’s 41 turbines — about 2,050 each year.
Similarly, reports show that the 88 turbines in the Blue Sky Green Field Wind Energy Center in Fond du Lac County each kill an estimated 41 bats per year, which is a little more than 3,600 each year, according to the Wind Energy Center’s post-construction study.
Each turbine in the state kills about 41 bats each year, according to estimates compiled by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
“I can verify that bats are good natural predators of insects and definitely benefit agriculture,” said Mark Hagedorn, agricultural agent for the UW-Extension.
The largest known area for hibernating bats in Wisconsin is the Neda Mine State Natural Area in Dodge County, where a census found 143,000 bats, according to the DNR.
The construction of wind turbines in Brown County has been a controversial subject for years, but most of the complaints focused on the safety and health impact on humans. The impact on bats has not been part of the debate over wind turbine construction in Brown County.
Recently, Invenergy Inc. abandoned its plans to build a 100-turbine wind farm in four southern Brown County municipalities. The town of Glenmore last month approved permits for Cenergy to build eight turbines in the town.
BATS ON THE BRINK:
READ ENTIRE STORY AT THE SOURCE: WISCONSIN TRAILS
By Jennifer L.W. Fink
Three wind farms – Butler Ridge Wind Farm in the town of Herman, Cedar Ridge Wind Farm in Fond du Lac County and another near Byron – have gone up within miles of the hibernaculum, and preliminary data suggest the wind towers may be responsible for the deaths of migrating bats. “We’re seeing some of the highest fatality numbers in the U.S.,” Redell says.
A century ago, Neda was an iron town. Hardy miners worked deep beneath the earth’s surface, digging out precious iron ore with picks and shovels. Now the miners are just a memory, and the tunnels are dark and damp – but far from empty.
Each fall, the fluttering of wings breaks the still silence of the mine as thousands of bats migrate hundreds of miles to hibernate in the old mineshafts. Today, the old iron mine, located just south of Iron Ridge in Dodge County, is one of North America’s largest bat hibernacula.
“Most people don’t realize that Wisconsin is such an important area for hibernating bats,” says Dave Redell, a bat ecologist with the Bureau of Endangered Resources. More than 140,000 bats, including little brown bats, northern long-eared bats, eastern pipistrelle bats and big brown bats, hibernate at Neda each winter.
Why Neda? “The old mine is big enough to host a large number of bats,” Redell says, “and the four miles of underground tunnels provide perfect hibernating conditions.” Hibernating bats require stable temperatures (41 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal), high humidity, good airflow and a private, undisturbed place. Any disturbances can awaken hibernating bats, causing them to prematurely deplete the fat stores they need to make it through the winter.
But while Neda has provided a safe haven for bats for many years, ecologists such as Redell are worried about the bats’ survival. Three wind farms – Butler Ridge Wind Farm in the town of Herman, Cedar Ridge Wind Farm in Fond du Lac County and another near Byron – have gone up within miles of the hibernaculum, and preliminary data suggest the wind towers may be responsible for the deaths of migrating bats. “We’re seeing some of the highest fatality numbers in the U.S.,” Redell says.
A new and deadly disease also has begun attacking hibernating bats, mainly in the northeastern United States. White-nose syndrome, a disease unprecedented in its ability to kill, was first identified in New York State in 2006 and has already killed more than 1 million bats. “Scientists are seeing anywhere from 90 to 100% mortality at affected hibernacula,” Redell says. While the fungal disease has not yet arrived in Wisconsin, experts believe it’s just a matter of time. “White-nose syndrome spread over 500 miles this year,” Redell says. “It’s now about 250 miles from Wisconsin.”
Scientists such as Redell are working feverishly to learn as much as possible about the disease and the state’s bats in the little time they have left. “We know that bat-to-bat transmission occurs, and now we’re trying to see if the environment remains infected,” Redell says.
Nestled deep within the earth, the mines at Neda are a world apart. For years, bats have wintered in their depths, undisturbed. Now experts can only hope that the bats don’t go the way of the miners before them.
Jennifer L.W. Fink grew up hearing stories about the bats at Neda but didn’t visit the mines until 2000. She currently lives in Mayville.
ADVICE FROM A PUBLIC RELATIONS FIRM:
READ THE ENTIRE SERIES AT THE SOURCE: NIMBY Wars: The Politics of Land Use.
Guide to Leadership, Effectiveness and Activities for Citizen Groups Pt 5
(by Robert J. Flavell. Flavell is vice chairman of The Saint Consulting Group and co-author of NIMBY Wars: The Politics of Land Use. This concludes the series begun last month)
Once the developer has identified natural supporters, outreach efforts will be needed to contact, recruit, and organize them. For that, you’ll need to find a citizen leader in the community, usually a natural supporter who has leadership abilities and feels strongly that the community needs the project.
It’s important that a local resident lead the citizen group to provide credibility and assure effectiveness. Clearly, the developer cannot manage the group, or its members will be branded as dupes and the group will lack credibility and influence.
An outsider won’t do to manage the group for much the same reason: lack of credibility and influence. Local residents will mistrust a stranger who suddenly appears in town just in time to accept leadership of the pro-development citizens group.
But a local resident who has longstanding community ties and legitimate personal reasons for supporting the project will be accepted at face value, and has the credibility to round up community support. The best way to find such a leader is to look among your natural supporters for a person with leadership skills who has the time and enthusiasm to do the job right.
You may well need to quietly fund the support group, but their expenses should be small—the cost of flyers and urns of coffee. Remember that a group seen as bought will also be seen as hirelings.
The group needs to appear independent of you and your company, which means that they may disagree with you on some points, or may have different ideas of what constitutes adequate mitigation. Taking their suggestions seriously and treating them with respect will win you points in the community.
Citizen Group Effectiveness and Activities
The effort to get a project approved and permitted organizes natural supporters to carry the issue, works to neutralize or marginalize opponents whose efforts can damage the chances of approval, and stresses the benefits to the community not through a public relations or marketing program but through the citizen advocates organized for the purpose.
Those advocates will express their support in their own words and from their own point of view, a much more effective approach than using a canned list of talking points.
Ardent supporters will also sway others who know and respect them—relatives, neighbors, co-workers, friends—will deter those who might have reservations about the project but don’t want to offend a neighbor or old friend, and can dissuade, neutralize or turn at least some opponents because they clearly speak from their own viewpoint and not as agents of the developer.
Make sure your group has a Web site and email address so that people tempted to support your project can easily join up.
Once it has a leader, the group can begin engaging in political support activities, forming coalitions with other groups, calling public officials to express support, writing letters to the editor, managing a website, starting a blog, printing flyers, and attending meetings and hearings, for example.
They can also hold fundraisers and seek donations to offset their expenses, and stage a site cleanup to dramatize the improvement your project will bring to the area. One particularly effective activity is the citizen petition drive, in which your group members collect signatures of local voters who favor the project, or at least are not opposed to it.
A stack of signed citizen petitions makes a nice prop for your lawyer to present to the licensing authority at the big hearing to bolster your claim of widespread public support.