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Turbine proposal ruffles feathers

Tom Jackson • Jan 10, 2014 at 7:30 PM

The Black Swamp Bird Observatory and a Washington nonprofit are threatening to file a federal lawsuit in hopes of halting a planned wind turbine project at Camp Perry.

Birding groups hope the threat of litigation will stop the turbine’s installation, or at least force a relocation. They contend a turbine at Camp Perry blocks the path of migrating birds and is the worst location possible.

“We hope that it won’t come to a lawsuit, but we’re fully prepared to pursue that if it comes to that,” said Kim Kaufman, director of the Black Swamp Observatory.

The Endangered Species Act requires an announcement of intent to sue before a lawsuit is actually filed, said Robert Johns, a spokesman for the American Bird Conservancy in Washington, D.C.

A Washington public interest law firm, Meyer, Glitzenstein & Crystal, sent a letter dated Wednesday by certified mail on behalf of Black Swamp and the ABC to the Ohio Air National Guard, which runs Camp Perry, and also to officials in the Air Force, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Department of the Interior.

Mark Wayda, the Ohio National Guard’s spokesman for the Camp Perry project, could not be reached for comment Wednesday after a call to his office.

The letter alleges that the planned 600-kilowatt wind turbine at Camp Perry, which was supposed to be completed in February, violates the Endangered Species Act, the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the National Enviromental Policy Act.

The groups say the project threatens eagles and two federally endangered birds — Kirtland’s Warblers and piping plovers.

The letter sets a deadline of Jan. 20 for a response and threatens a lawsuit if there isn’t “an adequate response to our concerns” by then.

Wayda, vice chief of the joint staff of the Ohio National Guard, said the wind turbine was funded by a $1.5 million earmark obtained by U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Toledo. He said the Ohio National Guard has been embracing alternative energy sources such as wind power and solar panels.

ABC supports wind power but believes it’s important to put wind turbines in proper locations and follow environmental laws, the letter says.

Black Swamp Bird Observatory also opposes wind turbines at Lake Erie Business Park, which is located near Camp Perry.

Kaufman said the business park already has installed a wind turbine. She said her group is battling that project, too.

“They are on our radar,” she said. “We are right now researching ways to try to prevent them from moving forward”

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