Environment – Birds and Turtles at Risk
Amherst Island is nature’s bird nursery and steward and is the wrong place for wind turbines. The entire Island is a globally recognized Important Bird Area on the Atlantic Migratory Flyway and a wintering hotspot for owls, eagles, and raptors. Known as the owl capital of North America, Owl Woods attracts birders from all over the world.
Bird kill would exceed Environment Canada standards and habitats would be fragmented and destroyed. Thirty-four species including the Blanding’s turtle, Eastern Meadowlark, Whip-poor-will and Bobolink on Ontario’s list are at risk on the Island. Blanding’s Turtle was instrumental in a decision of the Environmental Review Tribunal to revoke the decision of the Ministry of the Environment on a proposal for wind turbines on Ostrander Point in Prince Edward County.
Windlectric/Algonquin proposes four turbines in proximity to Owl Woods.
Take a virtual walk in Owl Woods:
Wintering Hawks and Owls
Amherst Island is known internationally for its concentrations of wintering hawks and owls with 10 species of owls recorded during a single winter. Short-Eared, Long-Eared and Great Horned owls reside on the Island. Snowy owls, Saw-whet owls, and the rare Boreal owl as well as Eastern Screech and Barred owls add to the owl population during late fall and winter. Red-tailed and Rough-legged hawks are usually present with frequent sightings of Bald Eagles, Peregrine Falcons and Turkey Vultures.
Islands of Life, a Biodiversity and Conservation Atlas of the Great Lakes Islands, ranks Amherst Island second in biodiversity significance. The Island contains at least 16 vegetation communities, 8 wetland, 3 lowland forests, 2 upland, 2 beach and 1 dune community with about 350 species of vascular plants, 77 species of birds, 11 species of herpetofauna and 8 species of mammals…. Several floral and faunal rarities have been reported within this site.
The Kingston Field Naturalists remain firmly opposed to the project on the basis that increasing the length of the roads on the Island will fragment habitat and make the remaining forested area less suitable for nesting, the projected bird mortality will be similar to Wolfe Island which exceeds Environment Canada standards, and the impact on coastal wetlands rapidly disappearing in Ontario, will affect rare birds such as the Black Tern, Least Bittern, and Wilson’s Snipe.
400 Hectares of Provincially Significant Coastal Wetland
The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources Life Science Checksheet provides the following information: “Norris has reported on the site diversity and notes that the site contains at least 16 vegetation communities, 8 wetland, 3 lowland forests, 2 upland, 2 beach and 1 dune community. Norris also noted that the site contains approximately 350 species of vascular plants, 77 species of birds, 11 species of herpetofauna and 8 species of mammals…. Several floral and faunal rarities have been reported within this site.
Windlectric/Algonquin Power’s treatment of wetlands and other environmentally significant areas suggests a total disregard for these important features of the Island’s natural environment. No hydrology studies have been completed by Windlectric so it is impossible to assess the impact on the Island’s wetlands. The failure to have adequate regards for wetlands may have grave consequences for the biodiversity of Amherst Island if the project proceeds.
Substandard Field Work
Windlectric/Algonquin Power’s minimal field work to support its natural heritage assessment failed to fully consider the negative impacts of the project on a wide range of wildlife. Habitat will be destroyed and fragmented. Construction across the entire Island will disrupt life cycles for up to three years. The turbines will create an impenetrable barrier on the Atlantic flyway especially when the cumulative impact with Wolfe Island is considered.
Read detailed reports describing the deficiencies of Windlectric/Algonquin Power’s natural heritage assessment.