Wind farm can seek permit to kill eagles - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

Wind farm can seek permit to kill eagles

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GOODHUE COUNTY, Minn. (KTTC/AP) -- It can be difficult to imagine killing an animal that is the national symbol of freedom, but federal officials are putting emotions aside.  A proposed wind farm in Goodhue County received the OK to pursue a permit to allow incidental deaths of eagles, bats, and any other type of bird that comes in contact with the rotating blades.

The plan has had three different owners since it's inception but the plan is continuing to progress.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's survey conveys the worst-case scenario: A new wind farm in the region would kill eight to 15 eagles a year. But the survey says it's a number that would not harm the local population.

"You have folks who are for it because they have signed agreements and you have folks that are against it," said Michael Wozniak, the Goodhue County Planning/Zoning Administrator, who has been keeping an eye on the issue.  "This has been very divisive amongst our general population out in the county. Especially out in the area of the county where the project would be proposed," he said.

He said although the heated debate is taking place inside Goodhue County, much of the matter is out of its hands for now.

"We have some responsibilities relating to the issues on the project," Wozniak said.  "But not the primary site permitting responsibility that lays with the state of Minnesota Public Utilities Commission."

The project calls for 48 wind turbine towers stretching over thousands of acres, more specifically Belle Creek Township.

Kristie Rosenquist, who lives in the neighboring township, currently enjoys the view out her back yard.  She's been involved with the Goodhue Wind Truth for three years, a group created to inform citizens on the latest developments, information, and upcoming events.

"I wasn't initially against wind energy," Rosenquist said.  "And after three years of being active and looking at all the attributes of wind I can't support it."

There are sure to be many more hurdles on the New Era Wind Farm path, but getting the OK is a jump in their direction.

Phone calls to the owner of New Era Wind Farm, Peter Mastic, have not been returned.

The company is reporting that once certain strategies to reduce the number of eagle deaths are put into place, it's more likely only one eagle will be killed per year or two.

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