Songs of the Badger Tallgrass Prairie

Songs of the Badger Tallgrass Prairie, Part 4

by Laura Olah, executive director CSWAB

songbird

Documented rare species at Badger Army Ammunition Plant include the Eastern Whip-poor-will.  Made famous in folk songs, poems, and literature for their endless chanting on summer nights, Whip-poor-wills are easy to hear but hard to see. Their brindled plumage blends perfectly with the gray-brown leaf litter of the open forests where they breed and roost.  These birds are on the decline in parts of their range as open forests are converted to suburbs or agriculture.

Sound and Disturbance

There is significant scientific literature documenting the physical and ecological effects of off-road vehicle use, ranging from soil compaction to non-native plant dispersal.  However, the most widespread impact on songbirds and other wildlife is disturbance. Disruption of breeding and nesting birds is a particularly well documented problem.  Many species are sensitive to human disturbance with the potential disruption of courtship activities, over-exposure of eggs or young birds to weather, and premature fledging of juveniles. Repeated disturbance can eventually lead to nest abandonment and long-term bird community changes.

Acoustic interference from noise can hamper the detection of song by birds of the same species, making it more difficult for them to establish and maintain territories, attract mates, and/or maintain pair bonds. This, in turn, may reduce breeding success in noisy roadside habitats. When begging for food, nestlings may need to call louder to elicit the desired response from their parents, thereby increasing the energetic cost of obtaining food and potentially decreasing fitness.

High levels of traffic noise may also interfere with the detection of alarm calls such as those signaling the presence of predators, which may lead to higher rates of predation.  In addition to road noise, scientific studies have documented a correlation between high urban noise levels and songbird diversity – the more noise, the fewer the number of bird species.

Activities that create an urbanized environment (clean pavement, mowed grass, maintained buildings, and ornamental landscaping) are predicted to produce a bird community dominated by a few non-native and common native bird species, WDNR biologists caution.

All of these considerations make clear that high-impact use and sound disturbance will be detrimental to the songbirds of Badger.

To  hear the song of the Eastern Whip-poor-will, go to:

http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/eastern_whip-poor-will/sounds

 

NEXT WEEK: Wisconsin ranks second nationally in the proportion of citizens considered birders, with fully one-third of residents 16 and older reporting they travel to watch birds, or actively watch and identify birds around home, according to a new U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service report.  PLUS, how you can help save the songbirds of Badger.

 

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CETF Weighs in on State Energy Planning

COMMENTS OF THE CITIZENS ENERGY TASK FORCE TO COMMISSION’S NOTICE OF INVESTIGATION REGARDING QUADRENNIAL PLANNING PROCESS II

Citizens Energy Task Force (CETF) appreciates the opportunity to provide input regarding the Quadrennial Planning Process generally, and the specific goals, priorities and measurable targets related to the Focus on Energy Program. These comments will address not only some of the questions posed but also decisions made in the first quadrennial planning process that should be revisited.

Phase 1, 2): Should the energy efficiency and renewable resource programs address longer term market changes in addition to short-term goal achievement? If yes, what is the appropriate balance between short-term achievement and longer term market changes.

CETF agrees that both short and longer term market change goals should be considered. Our comments will focus on benefits of a micro-grid, and the need to better consider externalities and carbon reduction in energy policy.

Grid reliability concerns have made grid security a national imperative, whether the concern is based on the threat of cyber or terrorist attack, increases in severe weather or solar flares, human error or interruption by vegetation or wildlife. A comprehensive, three-year Department of Defense (DoD) and Federal Emergency Management Agency study, Brittle Power: Energy Strategy for National Security,1 concluded that relying on massive, complex, and interconnected infrastructures to transmit and deliver power from centralized generation creates unavoidable, and costly, vulnerabilities.

Read the entire document uploaded to the WPSC (docket #5-fe-100). CETF Comments on Quadrennial Planning Process II_03.14.14

LOCAL MEASURES OFFSET NEED FOR TRANSMISSION EXPANSION

Just the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth…….

The March 2014 Wisconsin Energy Cooperative News cover story, Line Litigation; Transmission Opponents Battle On, left out crucial information, which would lead to a very different understanding of the situation.

SOUL of Wisconsin and Citizens Energy Task Force (CETF) believe the way regional transmission is being approved conflicts with existing state policies and statutes, and ignores known reliability and cost-issues associated with sending electricity great distances — no matter if the generation comes from coal or wind. SOUL and CETF further believe the energy infrastructure should be comprehensive, transparent and accountable to ratepayers.

Critical to this is a true understanding of cost and need, and an unbiased comparative analysis of all energy solutions that takes into account impacts on communities, job creation and property.

Read more at Rebuttal to WI Energy Cooperative News Cover Story_March 2014

CETF Applies for Intervenor Status on Anticipated Badger-Coulee Application

The Wisconsin PSC chose to disregard over 550 signatures asking for the PSC to reopen the CapX2020 docket based on new information. It is yet another example of the Wisconsin PSC ignoring the will of the public it is supposed to serve.

 

The Citizens Energy Task Force recognizes that the issues related to CapX2020 go beyond transmission lines to the heart of the right of the people to be heard. The paternal pat on the head by the Wisconsin PSC is simply unacceptable, especially in light of recent studies that drive home the fact that electrical use is declining.  A recent white paper published by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy underscores what Wisconsin citizens have been trying to get the WPSC to acknowledge for the past two years.

So, what is driving the Commissioners of Wisconsin’s PSC to continue to ignore the obvious, continue to disrespect its duty for due diligence, and continue to give a welcomed nod to the transmission line industry? When did the duty to serve the “public” leave the Public Service Commission? To whom does the PSC answer? The public? The transmission line industry? Who really controls Wisconsin’s destiny?

The Citizens Energy Task Force will not step back from the right of the people to hold government accountable. To that end, it has petitioned for intervention in American Transmission Company’s and Xcel Energy’s expected Badger-Coulee Transmission Line  Application. CETF contends that CapX2020 and Badger-Coulee are one in the same line, though applied for at different points in time. These applications present each line as independent of any other, when in truth one line creates a dependency on another. State and federal law requires that environmental and financial impacts of dependent acts be considered at the same time since segmenting them would mask the true costs. This is but one of the issues CETF continues to raise.

CETF Badger-Coulee Line Intervenor Status

For all of you who signed the online petition asking the Wisconsin PSC to reopen the CapX2020 docket, CETF thanks you. If you are interested in knowing more about the three commissioners who chose to ignore your concerns, you can read about them here.

Commissioner Phil Montgomery

Commissioner Eric Callisto

Commissioner Ellen Nowak

To comment on how the request to reopen the CapX2020 was ignored, post individual comments on the PSC website docket 5-CE-136 (you will need to set up an account if you don’t already have one) and send emails to:

 

 

PSC fails to look out for the public

The Citizens Energy Task Force has contended all along the benefit is to utilities and not ratepayers. A 2009 study about the national impact of adding mass amounts of regional transmission so that electrons could be better traded on the wholesale energy market showed the cost to Midwestern ratepayers was $3.9 billion per year — likely for 30 to 40 years — while Midwestern utilities’ revenue would increase $11.7 billion per year.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see who bears the costs and who gets the benefits. ~ Deb Severson

This lady needs to get a grip. Just because she and her groupies think something is a fact or is right does not make it so. It must be hard for her to understand the word NO… The time she and the groupies take to make boards, commissions, local governments, etc. respond to them increases our taxes. Do they give a rip about that? ~ Retiredone

Read the entire article and comments here.

We are still waiting for the Public Service Commission to be responsive to the public. Retireone – what part of 555 signatures don’t you understand? The people have a right, I would say a duty, to become engaged in the workings of their government. Government’s job is to represent the interests of the people. What would Retiredone have boards, commissions, and local government do rather than stand up for the people they represent?

PSC Snubs Citizen Groups

“We may disagree with the PSC over who needs the power lines and why, but there should be no question that the process to plan and approve energy infrastructure should be transparent, comprehensive, and accountable to the citizens and ratepayers it is meant to serve,” said Debra Severson

Apparently the PSC feels otherwise….. Take a read.

PSC Snubs Citizen Groups_Press Release_Feb 10 2014

Severson Sends Letter to Wisconsin DOA and Governor Walker

Friday, January 31, 2014

Dear Secretary Huebsch and Deputy Secretary Schoenherr, cc Governor Walker

Thank you again for the time you gave me last Friday to discuss the Request to Reopen the CapX2020 transmission line docket, which was filed on January 9.

In ending our discussion, Secretary Huebsch conveyed he would determine if any statutes prevented the Department of Administration from supporting this request, and he would follow-up with me early this week.  As you know, I left messages on Wednesday to facilitate this follow-up. I also took the opportunity to address the issue from the opposite perspective.

In addition to the general role in advising the governor on energy policy and land-use, and its oversight of the State Energy Office, the following statutes seem to justify the DOA’s support, if not intervention:

  • 16.004 (4), (5) and (6)
  • 16.82 (1), (2) and (3)
  • 16.95 (1), (2), (6), (7), (10), and (13)
  • 16.9675 (1), (2), (3), (4), (5) and (6)(a)

I also thought it helpful to include….

Read on…  the chart from the JCSP Study we discussed ….