Justyna Tomta’s article on the Skookumchuck Wind Energy Project (Dec. 16, 2017) states that “Questions on the effects the turbines would have on the marbled murrelet were also raised, leading to the change in plans.”
The concerns of the Black Hills Audubon Society (which represents members in Lewis, Thurston, and Mason counties) as well as the Willapa Hills and Rainier Audubon Societies expressed in a meeting with RES-Americas about the marbled murrelet (a state-endangered seabird that nests far inland) are not addressed by this plan change.
Our concerns addressed the impact of the turbines planned for the southern ridge — not the turbines recently eliminated from the northern ridge.
The turbines at the eastern end of the southern line of turbines are adjacent to occupied murrelet nesting habitat on private and federal lands. RES-Americas’ own radar surveys of marbled murrelets in the project area estimate a take of 2-3 murrelets per year for the next 30 years. This rate could completely eliminate the use of this important nest site in an area where few other nest sites exist for murrelets.
RES-Americas stated their unwillingness to eliminate these particular turbines because they produce proportionally more energy than others (being in the area of strongest winds). Our concerns did not lead to change in the plans by RES-Americas.
Black Hills Audubon supports wind-energy projects in Washington provided the impact on the marbled murrelet is adequately minimized and “take” is fully mitigated.