- Associated Press - Sunday, November 22, 2015

TARKIO, Mo. (AP) - Federal wildlife officials are raising concerns about a proposed northwest Missouri wind farm they say could have an impact on the migration of birds into the Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge.

Lenexa, Kansas-based Tradewind Energy plans to build roughly 150 wind turbines as part of the Rock Creek Wind Project in central Atchison County. The 500-foot-tall turbines would be between Tarkio and the Tarkio Prairie Conservation Area in the eastern part of the county.

There already are about 100 turbines on the county’s west side, the St. Joseph News-Press (https://bit.ly/1Nzk41N ) reported.

The Tradewind project places the turbines in the migratory corridor for species that fly into Squaw Creek from Iowa, said Janet Sternberg, policy coordinator for the Missouri Department of Conservation.

“We try to encourage the wind companies to go to already disturbed lands to site turbines,” she said. “We also ask them to stay away from forested patches primarily because it’s beneficial for the bats, and the larger raptor species will use those larger patches for nesting, so you’re kind of helping keep projects away from those areas, too.”

Neither the state Conservation Department nor the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has regulations governing the placement of wind turbines, Sternberg said, though representatives of the agencies attend meetings with the wind energy companies.

The Fish and Wildlife Service has suggested that Tradewind do an environmental assessment and apply for permits to allow protected species such as eagles to be killed at the facility. Companies operating without a permit for protected species are risking federal penalties, the agency said.

Tradewind has neither applied for the permits nor released a conservation assessment.

The company told The Associated Press in a statement that it has been conducting avian and bat surveys since 2008 in consultation with the Fish and Wildlife Service and state Department of Natural Resources.

Tradewind said it will work closely with the Fish and Wildlife Service to create an eagle conservation plan and bird and bat conservation strategy to minimize the project’s impact on threatened or endangered species and migratory birds.

The company also said it fully intends to apply for a voluntary permit for unintentional eagle deaths at the appropriate time, prior to the start of operations at the proposed wind farm.

Atchison County officials met with Tradewind over the summer, said Curtis Livengood, a county commissioner. He said Tradewind has met the county’s enhanced enterprise zone criteria for building and he supports the development as long as it acquires the required permits.


Information from: St. Joseph News-Press/St. Joe, Missouri, https://www.newspressnow.com

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