Operation Migration urges Winnebago County to protect whooping crane migration route

operation migrationEditor’s Note: The following letter was forwarded to The Rock River Times by the Natural Land Institute. Please see our Web site to view the “Crane Cam” and to review last week’s editorial, “Can we choose the wind?” Our editorial position calls for a special-use permit with public hearings for each proposed site. Please, call your county board.

September 10, 2009

Dear Chairman Scott Christiansen,

The Board of Directors of Operation Migration, Inc. is concerned about the proposed wind farm in western Winnebago County due to potential interference with Operation Migration’s long-standing route for its ultralight-led migration of juvenile whooping cranes, a federally-endangered species.

Operation Migration has utilized a corridor sited just east of Pecatonica and west of Rockford for its annual migration since 2001. Once trained to follow this general fly-way, many adult Whooping cranes subsequently fly through Winnebago County on their annual spring return to their nesting grounds in Wisconsin.

Therefore, Operation Migration respectfully requests that the Winnebago County Board comply with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service—published Interim Guidelines to Avoid and Minimize Wildlife Impacts from Wind Turbines (2003). In it, the USFWS advises that turbines should not be constructed in areas that could impact a registered Endangered Species, in bird migration pathways or high-concentration areas such as wetlands, or in bat hibernation or breeding areas.

USFWS recommendations are also made for turbine design and operation, such as construction that avoids perching and nesting, minimum lighting, and burying electric lines.

Operation Migration’s long established ultralight-led migration route through Winnebago County has been carefully researched and developed in consideration of a number of unique criteria necessary for the safety of the migrating birds, and the team of ultralight pilots leading them.

Operation Migration is one of nine members of an international coalition working to save the endangered whooping crane by establishing a wild migratory flock in the eastern U.S. (one of only two wild whooping crane populations in North America). It is critical to the success of this multi-year, multi-agency crane conservation project that the Eastern Migratory Population continue to be able to migrate safely through its established fly-way in western Winnebago County.

Operation Migration requests that the proposed Navitas wind farm be planned, sited and operated in concert with other actions needed to ensure that its impact on birds is absolutely minimized and mitigated.

For additional information about Operation Migration, please visit www.operationmigration.org. For questions or comments regarding our request please contact Vickie Henderson, board chairman, or Joe Duff, CEO and Whooping Crane Project Leader.

We look forward to your reply,

Vickie Henderson, board chairman on behalf of the Board of Directors

U.S.A. office: 1623 Military Road, #639, Niagara Falls, N.Y. 14304-1745; E.I.N.: 16-1560518

Canadian office: 174 Mary St., Suite 3, Port Perry, ON L9L 1B7; Charitable #: 88984-6887

Toll Free: 800-675-2618

Web site: www.operationmigration.org E-mail: info@operationmigration.org cc: Mr. Paul Gorski, Winnebago County Zoning Committee

Mr. Jim Webster, Winnebago County Zoning Board of Appeals

Mr. Tom Stehn, US Fish & Wildlife Service & Co-Chairman, International Whooping Crane Recovery Team

Mr. Brian Johns, Canadian Wildlife Service & Co-Chairman, International Whooping Crane Recovery Team

Ms. Louise Clemancy, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service & Co-Chair, Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership

Mr. Ken Salazar, Secretary of the Interior, U.S. Department of the Interior

Mr. Jim Lewis, chairman, Whooping Crane Conservation Association, Partner Member of the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership

Mr. Jim Hook, CEO, International Crane Foundation, Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership Founding Partner

Mr. Charlie Luthin, executive director, The Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin, Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership Founding Partner

Ms. Beth Kienbaum, Whooping Crane State Coordinator, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership Founding Partner

Mr. John B. French, Ph.D., Research Manager, Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership Founding Partner

Mr. Peter Stangel, director, Southern Region, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership Founding Partner

Mr. John Christian, past chairman, WCEP, Assistan Regional Director Migratory Birds and State Programs, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Region 3

From the September 30 – October 6, 2009 issue.

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