In 2016 the South Shore Audubon Society, along with New York City Audubon, completed work on a grant studying offshore wind energy. The grant of $10,000, made possible by the Moore Charitable Foundation and the National Audubon Society, was a joint project of the two chapters to study the possible effects of the proposed Long Island—New York City Offshore Wind Project. This offshore wind farm, currently in its preliminary planning stages, is to be located approximately 14 nautical miles due south of Nassau County. If constructed, it may include up to 140 wind turbines, producing enough energy for over 200,000 homes. It has the potential to be the largest offshore wind project in the country.
Grant funds were used to analyze documents produced by the companies and agencies pursuing the wind project, and suggestions have been made as to studies and analyses that should be further undertaken to protect avian species that might be affected by the wind turbines. The consultant hired to undertake the study, Wing Goodale of the Biodiversity Research Institute of Portland, Maine, completed and delivered a detailed report prepared for our two Audubon chapters. His report, Offshore Wind Energy Development and Birds in New York: Managing risk and identifying data gaps, reviews the extant scientific data on the possible impacts of offshore wind facilities on birds. Mr. Goodale’s paper, the core scientific product of our grant, should serve as a solid briefing paper useful to individual Audubon members, Audubon chapters, other environmentalists, and the general public who will be forming their opinions and positions regarding the construction of this and other offshore wind farms.
Subjects covered in the final report include: Adverse effects of Offshore Wind Energy Development (OWED) on birds, avian vulnerability to OWED, exposure of birds to OWED, New York birds and OWED, mitigating adverse effects, data gaps, and recommendations on how to fill those data gaps. The South Shore Audubon Society and New York City Audubon want to give this important paper, treating these crucial topics related to wind energy and bird conservation, wide dissemination.
It is hoped that the results of our offshore wind energy grant will spur needed conversation and action on the issue, making sure that if these facilities are built off our shores to produce desperately needed renewable energy they are located in areas least likely to harm birds.
Paul Friedman is a resident of Lido Beach who has been helping to monitor the Piping Plovers and other nesting shorebirds as a volunteer with the Town of Hempstead's Department of Conservation and Waterways. He put a PDF presentation together in the hopes that it will help educate people about the Piping Plovers (and other Birds of Lido Beach) and build some empathy for them. For additional information, see www.goodeggnjny.org/beach-nesting-birds/.
SSAS and other chapters of the Long Island Audubon Council were founding members of the Preserve Plum Island Coalition, which seeks to save the 840-acre island as a National Wildlife Refuge before the Animal Disease Center is closed and the 90% undeveloped island is sold by our federal government.