I want to correct the impression that Santa Barbara Audubon is “fighting” to block the Strauss Wind Energy Project near Lompoc. We recognize climate change and wholeheartedly support renewable energy. However, the fact that the project involves renewable energy does not give it a pass from a duty to avoid and mitigate significant environmental impacts. Audubon’s mission is protecting birds and their habitat, and poorly designed wind energy projects have caused substantial adverse impacts to sensitive bird populations. Audubon insists that bird protections be part of every wind energy project, particularly those sited in flyways, such as the Strauss Project. Bird protections are in place in wind farms around the country. We have spelled out for the county what bird protections should be implemented at the Strauss Project.
A fundamental consideration is proper siting of the wind turbines. Incorrect siting, for example, on ridge lines, can lead to unnecessary losses of hawks, eagles, and condors.
We also advocate for as little environmental destruction as possible in beautiful San Miguelito Canyon. The removal of hundreds of oak trees is not acceptable, particularly when alternative construction techniques can avoid this loss.