April 22, 2021  SOS Newsletter
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Tundra Swans at Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge taken by Doug Domedion

Save Ontario Shores Newsletter                                Protecting Birds and Other Wildlife

Heritage Wind Part III - Comments Needed Soon

Under the new State large scale renewables siting law citizens have a brief window to raise issues of concern regarding a project. In the Heritage Wind project, an Apex project that would install 33 turbines nearly 700 feet tall in Barre, there are less than 30 days remaining. May 21, 2021 at 5 pm is the deadline to submit comments.

Our last two newsletters, March 10th 2021, April 6th 2021, explained why the Heritage Wind project should matter to you. Now we are sending out two more newsletters that emphasize some of the issues you might consider for comment. Today’s issue has to do with the natural resources in the region. The next newsletter will come out early next week addressing other areas of concern.

Comments on the Department of Public Service website about the Heritage Wind application will be read by an administrative law judge and used to determine if there are any significant issues that would give rise to a hearing where experts and evidence could be presented.

Have you, your children, friends, or family visited the region’s wildlife areas? Do you believe that these areas and the wildlife that reside or stop there are regional treasures that should be protected? If county and regional residents and visitors raise their concerns with numerous comments, then the protection of these areas might require a hearing. Consider reading this newsletter and sharing your experience and your concerns in a comment to the Siting Office. There is a “Post Comments” box you can click. And please ask your neighbors and friends to do the same. There is less than a month left to comment so there is no time to lose. Thank you.

(This EDR generated project turbine map has been overlaid with DEC and USFWS maps to show the proximity to these areas. This map, shared with SOS by Rochester Birding Association, is not exact but gives a reasonable depiction of the turbines in proximity to the Federal and State wilderness and wildlife refuge areas.)

  1. Migration. Song birds, shore birds, raptors including eagles, and bats use the entire region as part of a migration corridor stopover. Songbirds fly in migration at night and descend in the morning to “stopover” before rising in the evening to fly again. The wilderness areas and farmland are a draw for these migrating birds as they head north to Lake Ontario and then either across or around Lake Ontario. This means that the birds are not just flying at great heights across the proposed turbine areas but will be descending and ascending, putting them at grave risk from the blades. The Heritage Wind project is raising serious concerns among local birders, birding groups and the American Bird Conservancy about the impacts on the migration of a great diversity of birds. There are no studies about the impacts in a high migratory area of these new taller turbines with blades nearly the length of a football field and with a blade swept area that is the equivalent of over 5 acres! However, the US Fish and Wildlife Service in spring migration season of 2013 had a radar unit stationed in an area not far from where the Heritage Wind project is proposed and found an abundance of migrating birds. The risk to birds is high.

  2. Eagles. We have come to love our resident nesting eagles as well as the many migrating raptors. Eagles travel substantial distances to hunt and could be in danger from the turbines. Raptors, searching the ground for prey, can be at high risk from industrial wind turbines. Several of the wildlife areas mentioned below were the original sites of the eagle hacking boxes used when eagles were brought back to New York. It is an exciting story that is part of our heritage in Orleans and Genesee Counties. This should be a historical site. Instead we are creating one of the most unwelcome landscapes that an eagle could face. (In 2016 SOS brought Mike Allen to the town of Somerset, where the Lighthouse Wind project is proposed. He shared the dramatic story as someone who was involved.)

  3. Wildlife Areas. The Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge (INWR) is an 11,000 acre site, part of the national wildlife refuge system, the only network of federal lands dedicated specifically to wildlife conservation. The refuge provides migratory waterfowl with nesting, feeding, resting and staging areas. In addition, there are hundreds of birds, as well as mammals, reptiles and other species. Visitors can frequently spot bald eagles, who have been regularly nesting in the refuge for the last 35 years. The refuge website also lists species of special concern including black tern, black ducks, osprey, American woodcock, and peregrine falcons that use the refuge some portion of the year.

  4. Wildlife Management Areas. Abundant bird and wildlife also can be found at the Oak Orchard Wildlife Management Area and Tonawanda Wildlife Management Area. These WMAs are composed of wetlands, upland forest, shrubland, and grassland habitats. Tonawanda features approximately 3,000 acres of permanent marsh used extensively by waterfowl for nesting and as a resting and feeding area during the spring and fall migrations. The 2,500-acre Oak Orchard WMA is located east of the Iroquois NWR in a historic wetland, the "Oak Orchard Swamp," created by a natural barrier across Oak Orchard Creek and resulted in a vast wetland upstream. More can be learned at Oak Orchard and Tonawanda Wildlife Management Areas.

  5. Beauty: The INWR Comprehensive Conservation plan Chapter 3 has a quote regarding the visual resources of this area:

    The refuge and neighboring State lands represent the largest contiguous land area in northwestern New York that is nearly free of agricultural and urban development. For many western New Yorkers seeking an aesthetically pleasing landscape to visit, the refuge offers their best opportunity within a days drive. The interspersion of forested wetlands and uplands, shrublands, grasslands and marshes provides a picturesque backdrop for outdoor recreation activities. The abundance and diversity of wildlife associated with these habitats significantly enhances the outdoor experience. When visited in the fall of the year, the pallet of natural color provided by a variety of tree species makes this area one of the most aesthetically pleasing spots to visit in western New York.

  6. This area is fortunate to have an amazing local photographer, Doug Domedion, who has for years been chronicling the abundance and variety of birds and wildlife seen in the areas where this project is proposed to be built. He regularly shares stories from the area in local publications. Here are links to some of his articles for reference.

- THE GREAT OUTDOORS: Environmentally safe energy: Who says so?

- THE GREAT OUTDOORS: Alabama Swamps an ideal place to observe wildlife

- THE GREAT OUTDOORS: The sandhill crane is a big, big bird

The placement of 700 foot turbines so near an area dedicated to the preservation of avian wildlife is unwise and raises grave concerns. These wildlife areas are an integral part of our region and may be jeopardized by the proposed Heritage Wind industrial wind development planned for nearby Barre. If you take a look at the website for Heritage Wind, it mentions:

Verified wind resource

Existing high-voltage power lines

Expansive private land and interested landowners

Proximity to state highways

It does not mention the Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge or the two wildlife management areas in close proximity.

It mentions interested landowners but leaves out any mention of those who hike, fish, hunt, kayak or bird watch in the area. It mentions wind but leaves out any reference to other natural resources. This lack of concern for our local resources is borne out in their application. This project will adversely impact bird migration. However, no document filed by Heritage Wind directly addresses bird migration or habitat.

Did you know that birds contribute to our health and well-being? Several recent studies have shown the positive link to exposure to a diversity of birdsong. “It turns out the people who live near natural areas with a greater diversity of bird species were demonstrably happier.” Audubon News: More Birds Bring More Happiness

Here is the link to make a public comment:

Department of Public Service Matter Number 21-00026

Public Comments: Public comments need to be submitted to the DMM site reached via the link above by the deadline of May 21, 2021, at 5 p.m. This site contains all the project documents if you want to look at any specific topic.

Public Comment Hearing: A public comment hearing will be held electronically on May 20, 2021, at 5 p.m. Instructions for participating in the hearing can be found at the above link. Written public comments concerning the application and draft permit conditions will be accepted until May 21.

As always, your support is appreciated.

Upcoming events At the Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge:

Eagle Watch at Ringneck Overlook

Saturday, Apr. 24 from 1:00 PM - 4:00 PM

Spring into Nature

May 1, 2021 - 2 sessions: 9:00 AM-12:00 PM, 1:00 PM-4:00 PM

Celebrate the wonders of nature with activities for all ages, including sunflower seed feeder construction, track casting, a guided hike, pollinator planting, fisheries discoveries, origami, sun art projects, feather ID, and archery and fishing games. Registration is required.

There are two sessions, morning and afternoon. Each session will be broken into groups of 10 and each group will cycle through all activities. Social distancing will be maintained throughout. Masks are required when in buildings or when social distancing cannot be maintained. Parking and all activities are free!


SOS is 100% funded by generous local individuals. Please consider joining this work by giving what you can. SOS is a not for profit corporation and it is not a tax exempt organization, so donations are not deductible for tax purposes.

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Checks can be sent to:
Save Ontario Shores
PO Box 382
Lyndonville, NY 14098
Copyright © 2021 Save Ontario Shores, Inc., All rights reserved.

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