The Changing View

The open views of Iowa and the American Midwest are changing- becoming cluttered with an ever increasing number of wind farms and high power transmission lines. Iowa by 2030 will have wind farms blanketing vast expanses of its counties and high power transmission towers taller than the Statue of Liberty. Names like “Rock Island Clean Line” mask the reality of a project that will forever help to eliminate the legendary open views that Iowa and the American Midwest are known for.

Wind turbines, wind farms, and high power transmission lines have their place. No environmentalist can deny the need for clean energy, but it seems profit minded utility companies and rich investors are taking the extreme approach of “carpet bombing” the Midwest with little regard for the wildlife and natural areas that remain. Some northern Iowa counties have lost their unclutterred views to a sea of wind turbines; the landowners given chump change, compared to the profits reaped, for renting their land. There needs to be some balance brought into the planning of these wind farms so wildlife can exist and wind power can still be harnessed. Giving the utility companies and wealthy investors the power to divy up our open Midwestern views is wrong.

The negative effects of wind turbines and high power transmission lines on wildlife is clear. Bird, bat turbine collisions, abandonment of nesting sides, service roads, etc. Wildlife can not thrive on a wind farm or near high transmission power lines. Wildlife vacates the area and with no alternatives disappears. Is this what we want as the price for clean energy? Can a balanced approach be made that preserves the integrity of natural areas, free of wind turbines and power lines? The uncompromising profiteering promoters of wind farms see only profit from our open Midwestern views. Not realizing that these uncluttered expanses are an integral part of what we Midwesterners love about home.

Myriad of Threats Towards Nature

If you care about nature, there is no time like the present to do something to try to stem the tide of destruction and take up restoration of even the tiniest area of habitat. There’s a myriad of environmental causes to choose from. I will focus on two such issues facing wildlife and ecosystems in Iowa and the Midwest.

1. Loss of CRP (Conservation Reserve Program) acres: For the past two decades, millions of acres have been planted with prairie grasses and wildflowers to put farmland out of production temporarily for periods ranging from 5 – 10 years. This program has been a boon to prairie bird species for obvious reasons. Recently, due to record commodity prices, a reverse trend of putting CRP land back into production has escalated. Drastic declines are predicted for prairie bird species as a result. This highlights the need for permanent and large acreage prairie restorations.

2. Endangered Species: Bit by bit we are losing multiple endangered species every day to extinction. There is still animosity among many towards the Endangered Species Act in general. Case in point is the fate of the Lesser Prairie Chicken. Numbers of the bird have plummeted in recent years, approaching a 95 % decline in the last decade. The bird’s fate makes it more than worthy of protection under the Endangered Species Act. Yet powerful oil and gas interests are fighting hard to stop the bird’s listing under the Act because of the federal regulations that would come into play. Some of these interests have formed “dummy” non-profits to “help” the Lesser Prairie Chicken. The species is doomed if oil and gas interests are its only champion. Emails and letters to the FWS and legislators are needed to speak for the Lesser Prairie Chicken.

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