Yesterday, the proposed Sugarland wind farm moved one step closer to approval.
In a 5-1 vote, the Palm Beach County Zoning Commission approved zoning plans for the project which would place 114 turbines in the ecologically sensitive area between Lake Okeechobee, the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, and numerous Everglades restoration projects.
This area is known for endangered birds such as the Wood Stork and Everglade Snail Kite, federally protected Bald Eagles, as well as migratory birds and wading birds. The Zoning Commission decided to add a condition to the resolution to demand adequate and continued radar collection on the impact of birds.
Audubon Florida's Everglades Policy Associate Jane Graham along with representatives from the Audubon of the Evergades Chapter urged caution and advocated for increased site-specific research to better determine the impacts to birds - before the project proceeds.
Although Audubon Florida strongly supports alternative energy, all projects must be properly sited and undergo a comprehensive scientific evaluation to know the potential impacts to wildlife.
The South Florida Sun-Sentinel quoted Jane Graham as saying:
"It has to be in the right place," said Jane Graham of Audubon. Building the wind farm without more study of the effect on Everglades birds "equates to gambling with the future of this world-class treasure."
Check out CBS 12 news coverage as well, with footage of Jane Graham's testimony:
Palm Beach County Commission will be hearing this proposal at the end of March. More details to come.