Heckled By ParrotsBlue Sky WritingRebecca K. O'Connor

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Addressing the Problem with Powerlines

From Subactive_Photo via Flickr courtesy of Creative Commons Licensing

From Subactive_Photo via Flickr courtesy of Creative Commons Licensing

There are nearly 37 million people in California, a tremendous amount of people who consume a stunning amount water and require a great deal of electricity. Usually around the office, we worry about water, but lately, power has been at the forefront of our conversation.

We use a lot of power in Northern CA, particularly in the Bay Area. This means as the population expands and there’s a requirement for even more power, more electricity  has to be carried somehow into our metropolitan areas.

Those gigantic transmission towers and lines are an eyesore however, and require a decent sized bit of land. The construction of a new transmission route is inevitable. It will happen. All the same, it’s a bad idea to point at the map and say, “No worries. There’s some open land right here. We’ll run it there.”  Which is pretty much what happened with the current proposal.

The current proposed routes of the California Transmission Project cut through District 10, Sutter National Refuge, Butte Sink, Yolo Wildlife Area, Stones Lake National Wildlife Area and a tremendous amount of other public and private wetlands.  See the map for more details. Some of this land is protected by conservation easements, some of it has seen the benefits of millions of taxpayers dollars and restoration work.  Perhaps it wouldn’t be that big of a deal if we weren’t talking about degrading a portion of the 250,000 acres remaining in a state that once boasted 3 to 5 million acres of wetlands which played host to 50 million waterfowl. We can’t afford to lose habitat.

But they’re just powerlines, so is there a problem?  Waterfowl experts feel that powerlines can impact larger birds, especially in foggy conditions when the birds may be killed by running into them. The real problem is that smaller waterfowl steer clear of habitat around the lines, giving the towers a berth of .2 to .5 miles, rendering a swath of the wetlands useless for conservation purposes.

No route is ultimately going to be a perfect solution, but it would be fantastic if the habitat were considered when making the final decision. Fortunately, there is some time for public opinions and comments to be considered.

Waterfowl hunters and conservationists worried about losing crucial habitat in the Central Valley need to write a letter before MAY 31st and send it to:

Mr. David Young

Western Area Power Admin

114 Parkshore Dr.

Folsom, CA 95630

Want more info? Look athe Western Area Power Adminstration’s website for further maps and details.

2 Comments

  1. Connie says:

    Rebecca do you hace a citation for the info in the quote below?

    “The real problem is that smaller waterfowl steer clear of habitat around the lines, giving the towers a berth of .2 to .5 miles, rendering a swath of the wetlands useless for conservation purposes.”

  2. Bobby Weido says:

    Where did the information below come from? I am working on a similiar case here in TX/AR.

    “The real problem is that smaller waterfowl steer clear of habitat around the lines, giving the towers a berth of .2 to .5 miles, rendering a swath of the wetlands useless for conservation purposes.”

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