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Victory for Preservation of Ostrander Point

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Blanding's Turtle winsSouth Marysburgh ON/July 9, 2013  The South Shore Conservancy congratulates the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists on the outstanding results of their appeal of an approval of the Ostrander Point wind project to the Ontario Environmental Review Tribunal. 

The Tribunal agreed with the Field Naturalists that this project would cause harm to the Blanding’s turtle, a turtle which is globally-endangered and threatened in Ontario. The Tribunal acknowledged that 5.4 kilometres of new roads constructed to accommodate the massive machinery needed to build and operate the nine 2.5 megawatt wind turbines would meet the test of serious and irreversible harm to Blanding’s turtles. The panel also considered that these roads would be permanently open to the public and thereby create on-going risks to the Blanding’s turtle in this fragile ecosystem.

The Conservancy is impressed by the Tribunals’ concern to prevent possible future harm to the Ostrander Point site.  As the Tribunal notes, the Ostrander Point Crown Land Block is identified by the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) as a candidate Area of Natural and Scientific Interest (ANSI) [15]. “If this area were a confirmed, rather than a candidate ANSI, it would be afforded further protections under the EPA. [610] The site “has simply not yet been designated as (a protected landform) by the MNR.” [612] “The evidence before the Tribunal raises the question of whether a wind project development will prevent a candidate ANSI from being considered as an ANSI in the future. The Tribunal has considered this possible future harm to the Site, due to removal of this opportunity for long-term protection.” [613]

The process to confirm the Prince Edward Point to Ostrander Point ANSI has been stalled since 2007, when the wind project at Ostrander Point was announced.   The process has been stalled long enough.  An opportunity now exists for long-term protection for Prince Edward County’s south shore – for the globally-significant Important Bird Area, the globally-rare alvar and the rare and at-risk species like Blanding’s turtle that are imperilled by wpd Canada Corporation’s 29-turbine wind project.

The Conservancy calls upon the Ontario Minister of Natural Resources to follow through on the recommendation to the MNR made over a decade ago to consider the Prince Edward Point to Ostrander Point a provincially significant ANSI.

The Conservancy urges the MNR to pursue the ANSI confirmation process and declare Prince Edward Point to Ostrander Point an ANSI.

Ontario Environmental Watchdog Boosts Conservancy Campaign

 

This week a major boost was given to the South Shore Conservancy campaign to protect the south shore IBA in Prince Edward County.

Gord Miller, the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario, hit the headlines when he unequivocally stated that wind turbines do not belong in Important Bird Areas (IBAs). Mr. Miller went on to suggest that wind turbines do not belong in any ecologically sensitive locations. 

According to Mr. Miller “…the current guidelines do not go far enough to ensure that wind power development is compatible with Ontarians’ objective of protecting wildlife.  Given the importance of selecting sites that minimize the harm to birds and bats, it just makes sense to avoid building wind energy projects in these species’ most ecologically sensitive locations.”

Ontario Nature has added to these comments by saying that on Wolfe Island (also an IBA) with an 86 turbine project, a 2010 study found that on average 16 birds and 43 bats were killed per turbine, one of the highest recorded rates in North America.  The kill on that site is one of the worst in North America.   The Ontario governments’ reaction to the high bird and bat kill was to increase the number of acceptable kills per turbine and decrease the area around each turbine that must be searched for bird and bat kills.  Furthermore they have made no response to the mandatory reports required of raptor kills. 

In addition to eradicating the possibility of wind turbines in IBAs, Mr. Miller considers that the Ontario government needs to take into account the cumulative effect that wind turbines have on both birds and bats.  Ontario Nature agrees stating that “we. . .need to be aware of the cumulative impacts of all wind turbines on bird life, bats, other rare plants and animals, as well as sensitive ecosystems.”   With the millions of migrating birds and bats as well as other winged species like the Monarch Butterflies that pass through the south shore, the cumulative impact here will be many times worse than at Wolfe Island. 

The Canadian Senate, Nature Canada, the Audubon Society as well as the Royal Society for Birds and many other environmental groups both here and abroad have alerted the MOE to the fact that wind energy projects do not belong in our IBA. Now the provincial governments’ own Environmental Commissioner, is reinforcing this. 

As we have seen with Gilead Power and with wpd Canada, the Ontario government has given no consideration to the issue of the IBA factor. There is no better time for everyone to tell our Liberal government that they must protect major migratory pathways, sensitive ecosystems and all threatened species and habitats.  This is the only acceptable solution for the residents of this province.

We encourage you to protest the construction of wind turbine projects in Prince Edward County’s globally-significant South Shore IBA by responding yourselves and encouraging as many others, particularly other residents of Ontario, to respond as well.  Whether they focus on our IBA or on the one closest to them does not matter.  The important thing is that they inform their MPP and others on the list below that they agree with Gord Miller and expect them to do the same.   

Please tell the following politicians that you agree with Gord Miller and expect them to do the same:    

Premier Dalton McGuinty
dmcguinty.mpp.co@liberal.ola.org

Dwight Duncan, MPP
Deputy Premier
dduncan.mpp@liberal.ola.org

David Orazietti, MPP
Parliamentary Secretary to the Premier
dorazietti.mpp@liberal.ola.org

Michael Gravelle, MPP
Minister of Natural Resources
mgravelle.mpp@liberal.ola.org

Mike Colle, MPP
Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Natural Resources
mcolle.mpp@liberal.ola.org

 Jim Bradley, MPP

Minister of the Environment
jbradley.mpp@liberal.ola.org

Helena Jaczek, MPP
Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of the Environment
hjaczek.mpp@liberal.ola.org

Chris Bentley, MPP
Minister of Energy
cbentley.mpp@liberal.ola.org

Reza Moridi, MPP
Parliamentary Assistant to the Ministry of Energy
rmoridi.mpp@liberal.ola.org

Tim Hudak
Leader, PC Party
tim.hudakco@pc.ola.org

Laurie Scott, MPP
PC Critic Natural Resources
laurie.scott@pc.ola.org

Victor Fedeli, MPP
PC Energy Critic
vic.fedeli.pc.ola.org

Michael Harris, MPP
PC Critic, Environment
michael.harris.ola.org

Lisa Thompson, MPP
PC Deputy Critic, Energy (Green Energy Act)
lisa.thompson@pc.ola.org

Todd Smith, MPP
Prince Edward-Hastings
todd.smith@pc.ola.org

Andrea Horwath
Leader, NDP
ahorwath-co@ndp.on.ca

Peter Tabuns, MPP
NDP Energy and Environment Critic
tabunsp-qp@ndp.on.ca

Jonah Schein, MPP
NDP Environment Critic
jschein-qp@ndp.on.ca

Sarah Campbell, MPP

NDP Critic, Natural Resources

scampbell-qp@ndp.on.ca

 

South Shore Conservancy Annual Meeting July 7, 2012

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Dear SSC Members,

We look forward to seeing as many of you as possible at our AGM on Saturday July 7 at Milford Town Hall, 10:30 a.m. – 12:00 a.m.  Renewal fees for the upcoming year and new member registrations will be received at the door during the half hour preceding the meeting, between 10:00-10:30 a.m.  We appreciate any and all efforts to increase SSC membership by bringing along new members and all new members signed up at the door are welcome to attend the AGM. Please note that only registered members may attend the AGM. 

AGM Guest Speaker Naturalist Terry Sprague

We are pleased to announce that famed local naturalist Terry Sprague is our featured speaker.  As well as being a peer reviewed author Terry’s weekly nature column has appeared in the Picton Gazette since 1965.  Terry’s involvement with the south shore Important Bird Area goes back many years and he played an important part in setting up the current bird banding station. We look forward to hearing the high points of his times spent in the IBA. 

The government’s continued delay in publishing a decision in regard to Gilead Power’s project at Ostrander Point has put us all on edge.  Come out:
 

  • to hear the latest information on the two projects that threaten our IBA, Gilead Power and WPD Canada
  • for more information about legal tactics to be deployed  
  • to learn about funds required and fund-raising plans
  • to nominate new Board members / vote in SSC Board  
  • to renew your membership or to sign on as a new member 

Please bring your own refreshments.  If you arrive in Milford early refreshments can readily be obtained at Milford Market at Mount Tabor, which is only a few minutes drive from Milford Town Hall or from Hicks General Store, which is almost across the street from the Town Hall.  

We would much appreciate an RSVP as this will help us estimate the numbers.  

We look forward to seeing you,

Sincerely,
Sandra Goranson
Beth Harrington
Janice Gibbins
Paula Peel

Liberal Leona Dombrowsky defeated in Prince Edward-Hastings

Conservative Todd Smith has been elected as the new MPP for Prince Edward County, defeating incumbent Liberal Minister of Education Leona Dombrowsky, a three-time cabinet minister.  According to countylive.ca, Smith won by a margin of over 3,000 votes.

Wind Concerns Ontario  (WCO) members campaigned against and defeated a number of rural Liberal MPPs including Minister of Agriculture Carol Mitchell (Huron Bruce); Minister of Environment (lead Ministry on the Green Energy Act) John Wilkinson (Perth-Wellington) and Minister of Education Leona Dombrowsky (Prince Edward Hasting).

John Laforet, head of WCO  and a vocal supporter of South Shore conservationists, says that Dalton McGuinty’s mandate to govern Ontario has been dramatically curtailed by the grassroots opposition to his industrial wind strategy.

Though we are unsure how this new government will address the placement of industrial wind turbines in environmentally sensitive areas like the south shore, we will continue to press for political support at all levels.

Postive response to South Shore Conservancy’s press conference

 To date we have only had positive responses to our press conference and to our media release.  The local media outlets that covered last Wednesday’s event at Milford Hall include the Belleville Intelligencer,CountyLiveand the Kingston Whig Standard.  As this is still breaking news we expect to see more coverage over the ensuing weeks. We do not expect that all of it will be positive but this has certainly been a good start. 

In County Weekly News this week Parker Gallant (Bloomfield) pointed out that the blade sweep area of a 1.5 MW GE turbine is almost a full acre.  Gilead Power’s 2.5 MG XL (Extra-Large) turbines each have a blade sweep of 1.9 acres.  Gilead’s nine wind turbines at Ostrander Point would have a total sweep area of over seventeen acres.  The spectre of turbine blades moving at 165 mph and covering over seventeen acres of sky at Ostrander Point, directly in the way of critical flight paths and a major migratory route is a horrifying prospect.  

SSC’s goal is to protect the IBA and to not repeat the ugly example set at WolfeI sland where wind turbines have scored the most fatalities on the eastern side of North America. Last Wednesday’s Press Conference was an important first step in gaining protection for our South Shore IBA.

Expert says Ostrander Point Blanding’s turtle habitat now damaged

Comments on habit disturbance activities (UXO removal site preparation) on Ostrander Point August/September 2011 by Frederic Beaudry, Ph.D. Assistant Professor of Environmental Science,  Alfred University, Alfred, New York, September 8, 2011

The original Word document appears below.

 “The following comments refer to activities observed on the site of a wind farm proposed by Gilead Power Corporation on Ostrander Point,Ontario. It appears that site preparation for unexploded ordnance removal has been conducted in the last week of August 2011. The activities documented on photos show site preparation consisting in clearing land of grass, forbs, shrubs and small trees using a Brushcat rotary mower pushed by a Bobcat skid steer.

These activities are of serious concern for the viability and persistence of the local population of Blanding’s turtles. Two main threat mechanisms were at play because of those activities:

 1)     Direct damage to Blanding’s turtle habitat is evident from the photographs and the maps situating the mowing activities. The mowing occurred in areas turtles use to conduct upland movements between foraging and nesting sites. More importantly, without proper prior wetland delineation procedures, damage may have occurred in spring / early summer foraging areas that would most likely be dry at this point. Damage in these foraging areas would affect their suitability for pond-breeding amphibians, a significant source of food for Blanding’s turtles. Finally, the use of gas- or diesel-powered vehicles in turtle habitat is risky, as highly polluting fuel, oils or lubricants can easily leak into the environment.

 2)     A greater threat to the Blanding’s turtle population is the risk of injuries or mortality from the mower.  At this time of year, the air temperature is still high enough to allow for relatively frequent overland movements as adult turtles seek new foraging areas, search for deeper waters as wetlands dry out, or make movements back towards the wetlands where they will overwinter. The mower can inflict mortal wounds to the turtles that are located upland, a threat that has long been recognized and usually associated with agricultural mowing equipment such as disk mowers. This risk is of great concern as Blanding’s turtle populations are extremely vulnerable to any additional mortality of adults. Their delayed sexual maturity, low annual reproductive output, and low egg and hatchling survival rates need to be offset by a high longevity. Because of this the adults’ annual survival rate needs to be between 94 and 96%; the loss of just a few individual adults, as little as one or two in small populations, is enough to drive local extinctions. For this reason the operation of motor vehicles or machinery that can kill adults is the greatest threat to their persistence.”

Frederic Beaudry, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Environmental Science

Alfred University

Alfred, New York

beaudry_comments_on_UXO_activities

Expert opinion on UXO removal from Ostrander Point

Letter from Dr. Charles R. Smith, Ph.D. to Mr. Charles Birchall Fogler, Rubinoff LLP – September 9, 2011. 

The original letter appears as a pdf. doc below.

 I’m writing in response to your enquiry of earlier today, regarding current activities to remove unexploded ordinance (UXO) from the Ostrander Point Site. I was able to visit the site on 4 and 5 September 2011, spending 8 hours in the field and walking 3.8 miles on the site, except in an area where I was excluded by workers removing UXO on the site (near Munitions Response Site 1 on the map you provided). I was not able to see personally any of the work depicted in the pictures you’ve provided by e-mail. I must say, however, given what I’ve seen in the pictures, that I am incredulous that work of the kind depicted would be undertaken without first having an environmental impact assessment of the potential effects of such work on plants and animals.

Specifically, the work is being conducted during the peak period of fall migration for many songbirds and birds of prey, including endangered, threatened, and sensitive species. Ostrander Point already is identified as an Important Bird Area and significant stopover location for migrating songbirds and birds of prey. From my own recent observations at the site, it is rich with food sources for migrating songbirds, including the fruits of two juniper species (Eastern Red Cedar, Juniperus virginiana, and Common Juniper, Juniperus communis), along with substantial amounts offruits from multiple species of shrub dogwoods (Cornus spp.), and seeds from multiple species of asters and goldemods. All of these foods are essential to providing nutrition and energy to allow migratory songbirds to continue their migrations. In addition, birds of prey time their migrations to take advantage of the abundances of their songbird prey. Habitat disturbance not only disrupts the movement and feeding patterns of migratory songbirds, but also the birds of prey which depend upon the songbirds for food during migration. The work currently ongoing at Ostrander Point is destroying plants that provide important foods and cover for migrating songbirds. Clearing the areas within the circles outlined in red on the map you provided will adversely affect a significant percentage of the habitats at the Ostrander Point wind turbine site. Read the rest of this entry