We thought it had gone away, but it is back. The Sugarland Wind Project in the Everglades Agricultural Area quietly received an environmental resource permit from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection last week- without a notice of intent. The public was not informed prior to this bad decision.
This is the project that proposes to place 124 Statue of Liberty sized wind turbines in prime bird habitat between Lake Okeechobee, the Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, and the Stormwater Treatment Areas. It poses a genuine risk for emblematic species like the federally endangered Everglade Snail Kite and Wood Stork, and to countless migratory birds, ducks, and bats. Even with an “Avian and Bat Protection Plan,” we fear the project’s impacts will be too great.
Audubon Florida supports green energy, but it must be in the right place. A huge project within the footprint of Everglades restoration and in the middle of a key migratory bird path on the Atlantic Flyway is very problematic.
For this project to actually proceed, the United States Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) must ok a Section 404 permit, which is still under consideration. The United States Fish and Wildlife Service has demanded more data to show there will not be impacts to endangered species. Eric Draper, Audubon Florida Executive Director, has recommended the Corps denies the permit or defer until the applicant has provided information to prove there will not be unacceptable impacts to birds. Stay tuned for more information on how you can get involved and protest this poorly cited project.