First Wind Finishes Maui Endangered Bird Mitigation Project

July 19, 2013

Whether you’re a Maui visitor or a resident, you’ve seen the big wind turbines on the West Maui Mountains above Ma’alaea. This is the Kaheawa Wind site of First Wind, a company based in Boston, and they recently completed an endangered bird habitat conservation plan for the species that may be impacted by the turbines, pun intended.

Most of us only see the turbines from a long way away, and it looks like they are moving slowly, which is exaggerated by their great size. The truth is that the ends of the turbines are speeding through the air with blinding quickness, and it is possible that passing birds can end up as casualties of this alternative energy source. This is why First Wind has actualized their habitat conservation plan. Their goal is to “minimize and mitigate” any harm caused by the turbines.

The Makamakaole Seabird Mitigation project was designed to provide save havens for endangered bird species via two enclosures. The hope is not only to offset potential harm to the birds, but to cultivate a place where the birds can gather to nest and rest safely. Biologists will monitor the enclosures over a twenty year period, and report their findings.

First Wind had the help of the Hawaii Division of Forestry and Wildlife, Hawaii Natural Areas Reserve System and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. They also had some consulting via EcoWorks New Zealand, SWCA Environmental Consultants, and others. That’s a lot of expertise for this challenge. In fact, the president of EcoWorks New Zealand, Steve Sawyer, designed the enclosures to attract birds but keep predators out. Hopefully, all these efforts will culminate with great success.

These kinds of efforts are important, as Maui is a very ecologically sensitive place. Alternative energy sources are highly beneficial to our ecosystem, but these kinds of innovations can help in one way and cause harm in another. Fortunately, alternative energy officials are sensitive to ecological issues, in which their industry is enmeshed. That’s why we come to expect an exemplary level of responsibility from the alternative energy industry, especially in Hawaii.

Seeing as we are South Maui real estate specialists, you may notice that alternative energy subjects come up consistently in our blog. That’s because South Maui is an alternative energy hot spot where Smart Grid technology is being tested and refined to maximize energy efficiency in the home. If you are in the market for a South Maui home or condo, or you’d just like to keep up to date on events in South Maui, check in every Friday for our latest blog. We hope you find them informative. Mahalo! – By Mark Harbison

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