As I point my camera at the beautiful fall foliage they stick out as very foreign objects in the grand landscape that Mother Nature has given us country folks. Swinging my camera toward a flying flock of geese, the tall “white monsters” in the background ruin the image I'm trying to capture of wild and free wildlife. I have visions of a bald eagle or a red-tailed hawk getting whacked by one of those fast-moving blades coming down while he concentrates on a rabbit or a mouse on the ground.
In recent years there has been a big surge of interest in providing environmentally safe energy in New York state. About that, my many questions don't seem to have answers from the folks promoting huge wind and solar farms, or anyone else. Most information comes from the folks wanting to build these power stations, you know, kind of like the “fox in the hen house” deal. And with this big business comes lots of promises of great sounding things, but we have all seen big businesses come and go and their promises broken.
Recently it has been publicized that the town of Barre, in Orleans County, will see 33 of these 700-foot wind turbines constructed. The Barre town board has declared that wind turbines will have little or no impact on the local environment or wildlife. Wonder how many of those board members have formal wildlife management education?
I'm concerned about this whole “deal” in Barre because the turbine field starts about one mile from the state Oak Orchard Wildlife Management Area. That's 2,500 acres of rich wetland environment set aside for the benefit of wildlife and the enjoyment of many types of outdoor enthusiasts. It's also one of the three original eagle hacking (raising young eagles in captivity and then releasing them into the wild) sites that brought back the bald eagle from the brink of extinction in New York state, as well as the osprey — and where there presently are two active eagle nests and several osprey nests. Where hundreds of thousands of waterfowl stop to rest during their spring and fall migrations. Where sandhill cranes, which just moved into this area in recent years, now nest. Where uncommon species such as the black tern, short-eared owl, Least Bitterns and American Bitterns roam. Where untold numbers of people come to see the marvel of nature.
Then we have another 11,000 acres of federal refuge (Iroquois) and 5,684 acres in the state Tonawanda WMA that start only 5 miles away from this future industrial wind development.
The Oak Orchard and Tonawanda WMAs and the Iroquois refuge are considered some of the most diverse wetlands in the state. Thirty-three mammoth wind turbines covering roughly 165 acres of bird air space: What are we thinking?
I spend a lot of time (every day, especially early mornings and early evenings) out and about in these areas with my camera photographing nature. I've always been oriented to nature and in all my years (too many now!) I have witnessed many things that most people never will.
One of the marvels I see is masses of migrating waterfowl flying out from the refuges while they are here in search of food in the surrounding farm lands. They fly low and they progressively move farther and farther from the refuge areas as they clean up the harvested drop fields nearby (20 miles away is not uncommon). Sometimes their attention is diverted by other things, like other birds in near collisions or predator species like eagles coming for them. I see eagles, hawks and vultures searching the land below for food, their attention not always fixed on what may be coming suddenly from above.
Many of the things I have seen make me question what effects these wind turbines will have on wildlife. There really hasn't been a lot of serious surveying done on that question. What about birds that migrate at night? What about bat migration? How much disturbance to nesting birds might there be? What happens when these tall monsters go bad, or turn out to be not such a good idea after all? Can a bird dodge a blade that's spinning 200 mph?
Another point: Who is pushing all these “save the planet” things in New York state? Why, it's our famous Governor who was recently caught lying to us about COVID-19 and is facing many inappropriate activity accusations! Could this big push to “save the planet” be another big scam to create wealth for some people?
Remember when DDT was the greatest thing in the world to get rid of those nasty insects? Or, how Agent Orange was going to win the war for us in Vietnam? How Round Up solved all our bad-plant problems? Remember how we went from paper bags to plastic bags to save trees? Wildlife and people have been paying for those loosely studied things for years since they occurred.
Not everything is as it seems — or as we have been told. Enjoy what nature has given us while you can.
Doug Domedion, outdoorsman and nature photographer, resides in Medina. Contact him at (585) 798-4022 or firstname.lastname@example.org .