WBEZ | migratory birds http://www.wbez.org/tags/migratory-birds Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en U.S. Rep. Quigley floats bill to curb bird building collisions http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-05/us-rep-quigley-floats-bill-curb-bird-building-collisions-107319 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/70842820@N00/5735771536/" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/bird%20by%20billeguerriero.jpg" style="height: 458px; width: 610px;" title="Birds flock near the Chicago River. Chicago's skyline kills more birds than any other in the country. (Bill Guerriero via Flickr)" /></a></div><p>When <a href="http://archpaper.com/news/articles.asp?id=5806" target="_blank">Columbia College called on Gensler to restore a historic Michigan Avenue façade</a>, the design team <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0XM3vWJmpfo" target="_blank">put a bird on it</a>.</p><p>They had previously discussed Chicago&rsquo;s problem with bird collisions &mdash; due to <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-04/lakefront-landing-strip-migrating-birds-106429" target="_blank">the city&rsquo;s location amid many major migratory routes</a>, Chicago&rsquo;s skyline <a href="http://grist.org/cities/death-from-above-chicagos-bird-casualties-offer-clues-on-climate-change/?utm_campaign=daily&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_source=newsletter&amp;utm_content=headline" target="_blank">kills more birds than any other in the country</a> &mdash; but abandoned the idea of plastering a classic Michigan Avenue address with conspicuous bird decals. Instead of dots and lines comprising the frit pattern, they asked, what about stylized bird pictograms?</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/618-s.-michigan.jpg" style="height: 441px; width: 305px; float: left;" title="Design firm Gensler used a pixelated bird pattern frit on the facade of 618 S. Michigan Ave. (Steve Hall)" />&ldquo;At first we were just playing with it, but it turned out to be a really functional, practical way of depicting the image of the old building,&rdquo; said the firm&rsquo;s Chicago design leader Elva Rubio.</p><p>The goal, Rubio said, was to create an abstracted &ldquo;ghost&rdquo; image of the building&rsquo;s original terra cotta facade using a pattern of pixels.</p><p>&ldquo;Your eye doesn&rsquo;t even catch the bird,&rdquo; Rubio said.</p><p>But they hope the pattern will catch the eyes of migrating birds. Gensler&rsquo;s own windows in the nearby Carson Pirie Scott building served as the test kitchen, playing host to more than 50 mock-ups refined using a computational program developed in-house.</p><p>U.S. Representative Mike Quigley (IL-05) wants to require all federal buildings to explore such bird-safe materials and design features. The Federal Bird-Safe Buildings Act, introduced Wednesday, calls for each federal public building constructed, acquired, or altered by the General Services Administration to &ldquo;incorporate, to the maximum extent possible, bird-safe building materials and design features.&rdquo;</p><p>As &ldquo;<a href="http://www.gsa.gov/portal/content/105345" target="_blank">the nation&#39;s largest landlord</a>,&rdquo; the GSA could make a dent on the considerable problem of bird collisions. The American Bird Conservancy estimates between 300 million and one billion birds, both resident and migratory, die each year after hurtling into buildings.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/CH_HIP_CCC618Facade_12.jpg" style="height: 459px; width: 305px; float: right;" title="Detail on the bird pattern frit at 618 S. Michigan. (Steve Hall)" />Quigley&rsquo;s office said birding generates some $4.4 billion in federal tax revenues, and is responsible for roughly 670,000 jobs. The new bill, which <a href="http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/112/hr1643" target="_blank">follows an ill-fated 2011 measure by the same name</a>, has been deemed cost-neutral by the Congressional Budget Office.</p><p>When he was a Cook County Commissioner, Quigley <a href="http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/10/13/san-francisco-seeks-bird-safe-buildings/" target="_blank">sponsored legislation in 2008 that codified bird-friendly building guidelines</a>. Quigley, who taught environmental policy at Loyola University and bikes to work at the Capitol, <a href="http://blogs.suntimes.com/sweet/2013/01/rep_mike_quigley_snags_appropr.html" target="_blank">recently gained a seat on the influential House Appropriations Committee</a>.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m in a good position to help at the worst possible time,&rdquo; he told scientists at the Chicago Botanic Garden during a &ldquo;<a href="http://quigley.house.gov/index.php?option=com_content&amp;task=view&amp;id=793&amp;Itemid=84" target="_blank">climate tour</a>&rdquo; of the Chicago area earlier this month. Climate science deniers have obstructed environmental legislation, he said, so far <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/19/opinion/sunday/climate-warnings-growing-louder.html?_r=0" target="_blank">squandering Congress&#39; chance to address the global problem through legislation</a>.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m convinced that if it didn&rsquo;t agree with their policy subset,&rdquo; Quigley said later during that tour, &ldquo;[the people I serve with] wouldn&rsquo;t believe in gravity.&rdquo;</p><p>As <a href="http://grist.org/cities/death-from-above-chicagos-bird-casualties-offer-clues-on-climate-change/?utm_campaign=daily&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_source=newsletter&amp;utm_content=headline" target="_blank">Lori Rotenberk wrote for&nbsp;<em>Grist</em></a>, birds appear to be migrating sooner and even getting smaller &mdash; possibly adaptations to global warming. The source of that data? A library of bird carcasses recovered by the <a href="http://www.birdmonitors.net/" target="_blank">Chicago Bird Collisison Monitors</a>.</p><p><em>Chris Bentley writes about the environment for WBEZ. Follow him <a href="http://twitter.com/cementley" target="_blank">@cementley</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 22 May 2013 17:44:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-05/us-rep-quigley-floats-bill-curb-bird-building-collisions-107319 A lakefront landing strip for migrating birds http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-04/lakefront-landing-strip-migrating-birds-106429 <p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Burnham%20Wildlife%20Corridor%20Map_2.jpg" style="width: 610px;" title="(Courtesy Chicago Park District)" /></p><p>They may have evolved to make the trip, but migratory birds are still tired after flying for thousands of miles. As a major stopover for roughly 300 species of birds, Chicago&rsquo;s lakeshore can be a good place to rest.</p><p>Building off similar work east along the waterfront, the Chicago Park District will restore native habitat for migratory songbirds along a 2.2 mile strip of land sandwiched by railroad tracks and Lake Shore Drive between 31st and 47th Streets.</p><p>The Park District is calling the 103-acre parcel the Burnham Wildlife Corridor. It includes land east of Lake Shore Drive, where restoration is already underway.</p><p>Shirlee and Douglas Hoffman, both retirees, live on 32<sup>nd</sup>&nbsp;Street, just steps from the proposed site.&nbsp;The Hoffmans said they have seen more kestrels, hawks and warblers than ever before since work began on the corridor several years ago.</p><p>&ldquo;We can really notice the difference so far,&rdquo; Shirlee Hoffman said. &ldquo;And we&rsquo;re hoping that this will continue that work.&rdquo;</p><p>Most of the new 41.5-acre stretch will be woodland, seeded with oak species <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-02/reuniting-nature-nations-backyards-105473">known for fostering hundreds of species of caterpillars</a> &mdash;&nbsp;a key component of migrating songbirds&rsquo; diet. In August, Park District officials hope to organize a massive volunteer event to plant 125,000 trees in one day.</p><p>Before then the Park District will have to clear out invasive buckthorn and cottonwood that has taken over this narrow outpost. Years of runoff from the neighboring highway and railroad tracks have only worsened an already lackluster soil profile. But oaks are hardy, park officials said, and should take root once restoration work clears the way.</p><p>This isn&rsquo;t a restoration project per se &mdash; <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/question-answered-how-has-chicago%E2%80%99s-coastline-changed-over-decades-104328">the land originally came from lake fill</a>, so it&rsquo;s more accurate to look at the Burnham Corridor as habitat enhancement. If it is successfully rehabilitated, this skinny strip of neglected land could become a welcome layover for the more than five million birds that pass through Chicago each migratory season.</p><p>&ldquo;Even though it might not be a fully thriving ecosystem,&rdquo; said Mike Redmer with the U.S. Fish &amp; Wildlife Service, &ldquo;it&rsquo;s providing a place for them to crash. Anything you can give these migrating birds along the lakefront is going to help.&rdquo;</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/71YVxFOU6s8" width="560"></iframe></p></p> Tue, 02 Apr 2013 13:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-04/lakefront-landing-strip-migrating-birds-106429 Gas drilling could take air out of offshore wind http://www.wbez.org/content/gas-drilling-could-take-air-out-offshore-wind <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-November/2011-11-08/Wind_Farm_D36.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>I understand the power of Lake Erie wind as soon we’re out past the breakwaters of Cleveland Harbor. The waves make our 74-foot tugboat bob like a rubber toy in my preschooler’s bath tub.</p><p>Before long, I’m sweating and looking for a place to heave.</p><p>Right next to me, Bill Mason seems to be enjoying the ride. In fact, he wants to show me a spot where the wind is even stronger. “Where we’re headed is to an anemometer,” Mason says, mispronouncing the instrument’s name. “It’s been measuring the wind speeds since, I think, 2007. So I know we have good wind.”</p><p>Mason doesn’t know all the particulars about wind energy. But, as the Cuyahoga County prosecutor, he knows a lot about Northeast Ohio. Since taking office in 1999, Mason has seen about a 100,000 manufacturing jobs disappear from the area.</p><p>Installing a handful of wind turbines offshore could spark a revival, Mason says, changing Cleveland’s image from a deindustrialized ghost town to “a green city on the blue lake.”</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-09/RS4522_Wind_Farm_A28-scr.jpg" style="width: 275px; height: 184px; margin-left: 0px; margin-right: 18px; float: left;" title="Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason says putting turbines in Lake Erie could revive the city. (Front and Center/Bridget Caswell)">Mason has been promoting the wind-farm idea for seven years. In 2009, he helped form a quasi-public group, the Lake Erie Energy Development Corporation, to turn the idea into reality. Representing Cleveland and four counties along the lake, LEEDCo has held dozens of community meetings. It has secured an option for nine square miles of the lake. It has studied possible impacts on wildlife. And it has begun work on designs and permits.</p><p>Mason tells me Cleveland could help build offshore wind farms throughout the Great Lakes. He points to the city’s proximity to rail lines, deep-water port facilities and manufacturers. He says companies in the area could retool to make parts and supplies ranging from transmission cables to ice-resistant blade coating. The wind-farm supporters commissioned a study that says their project could lead to 15,000 new Ohio jobs within two decades.</p><p>The supply chain could include Lincoln Electric, which makes welding equipment in Euclid, a suburb northeast of Cleveland. Lincoln Electric is already getting a taste of wind-energy generation since installing a 443-foot-tall turbine this year to help power the company’s main plant.</p><p>Driving up the lakeshore, I can see the three rotor blades spinning from miles away. On a windy day, the tips go 160 miles an hour, the company tells me. But I can’t hear any sound from the turbine until I’m within a stone’s throw. Looking straight up at the blades, I notice a subtle swoosh as each one passes.</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-09/RS4525_Wind_Farm_D36-scr.jpg" style="width: 275px; height: 183px; float: right; margin-left: 15px; margin-right: 4px;" title="Lincoln Electric’s Seth Mason says his company’s new turbine provides a case study for the offshore project. (Front and Center/Bridget Caswell)">The turbine has given a lot of local people—from regulators to engineers to truck drivers—their first contact with a wind project. Lincoln Electric energy manager Seth Mason (no relation to the prosecutor) says this experience could help with the offshore installation, which would be just a few miles away.</p><p>“You basically have the same wind regime [and] you’re basically going to have the same amount of migratory birds at this longitude,” Mason says. “So I think it provides a case study for the next machine.”</p><p>It’s not just local boosters who think a Lake Erie wind farm could revive Northeast Ohio. Christopher Hart, the U.S. Department of Energy’s offshore wind chief, sees it that way too. “If a place like Cleveland is able to establish the demonstration project and then is able to leverage that demonstration project into a larger position in the industry, this could really, really have an impact on the local economy.”</p><p>Hart tells me Cleveland has the best shot at installing the first Great Lakes wind farm. But he points to a huge barrier: “Given the current technology, given the current regulatory structure, offshore wind doesn’t make economic sense.”</p><p>DOE calculations suggest it’s more than twice as expensive to generate electricity from offshore wind as from coal, natural gas or nuclear fission. The New York Power Authority pointed to costs this fall when it pulled the plug on some proposed Great Lakes turbines.</p><p> <style type="text/css"> div .inline { width: 290px; float: left; margin-right: 19px; margin-left: 3px; clear: left; font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 1em; background-repeat: no-repeat; background-position: 0pt 5px; padding-left: 3px; margin-bottom: 0.5em; }div .inlineContent { border-top: 1px dotted rgb(170, 33, 29); margin-bottom: 5px; margin-top: 2px; }ul { margin-left: 15px; }li { font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: 1em; background-repeat: no-repeat; background-position: 0pt 5px; padding-left: 3px; margin-bottom: 0.5em; }</style> </p><div class="inline"><div class="inlineContent"><a href="/frontandcenter"><img alt="" src="http://www.wbez.org/sites/default/files/story/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-06/FC-logo-sm_0.jpg" style="width: 280px; height: 38px;" title=""></a><ul><li><strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/plant-entrepreneurs-turn-waste-jobs-93782"><span style="color: rgb(255, 0, 0);">ViDEO:</span></a> <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/plant-entrepreneurs-turn-waste-jobs-93782">Plant turns waste into jobs</a></strong></li><li><a href="http://www.wbez.org/imadeajob"><strong><span style="color: rgb(255, 0, 0);">INTERACT: </span>Made a Job? Tell us about it.</strong></a></li><li><a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/can-milwaukee-become-silicon-valley-water-93835"><strong>The Silicon Valley of water</strong>:<strong> Milwaukee?</strong></a></li></ul></div><div class="inlineContent">&nbsp;</div></div><p>That frustrates Chris Wisseman, who leads a consortium called Freshwater Wind that LEEDCo chose last year to develop Cleveland’s offshore wind farm. “All we’re talking about here is a new technology that looks like it’s got the ability to be very cost-effective inside of a decade,” he says.</p><p>The construction will run about $130 million, Wisseman tells me. The financing will be tricky because few utilities are eager to buy electricity that is so expensive. The only purchaser on board so far is municipally owned Cleveland Public Power, which has agreed to buy a quarter of the wind-farm output.</p><p>So LEEDCo is pushing for Ohio to <em>compel</em> utilities to buy the electricity and pass along the cost to customers—a process known as rate recovery. If the plan covered just northern Ohio, Wisseman says, business and residential customers would each pay an extra $0.40 a month.</p><p>The area’s big utility, Akron-based First Energy, says it won’t take a stand on that rate recovery until it sees a proposal. The Ohio Association of Manufacturers tells me it will probably go along with the plan if it doesn’t hit electricity-intensive companies hard.</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-08/Kasich.jpg" style="width: 275px; height: 268px; margin-top: 5px; margin-left: 0px; margin-right: 18px; float: left;" title="Ohio Gov. John Kasich isn’t saying whether he’ll support rate recovery for the offshore wind project. (AP/File)">But rate recovery won’t get far without support from Gov. John Kasich. He appoints the members of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, which regulates the state’s electricity rates. And his Republican Party controls both houses of the state legislature.</p><p>At an energy forum Kasich’s office organized this fall, the governor didn’t leave any doubt that his energy focus would be an Appalachian rock layer called Utica Shale. In Ohio, that shale holds a lot of natural gas. To free up the fuel, companies such as Oklahoma-based Chesapeake Energy Corp. want to drill thousands of horizontal wells and inject pressurized fluids—a process known as fracking.</p><p>An industry-funded study says the fracking could create more than 200,000 jobs in Ohio over the next four years. The potential boom is keeping Kasich’s staff busy. “We have had 129 separate meetings—5 regional meetings, 78 with business associations, 46 meetings with oil-and-gas division experts—all across Ohio,” the governor said at the forum.</p><p>At the same time, contaminated groundwater in nearby Pennsylvania is giving fracking a bad name. Kasich promises environmental safeguards for Ohio.</p><p>The governor says he’ll also promote renewable energy efforts. So, when I catch up with him, I ask whether those will include Cleveland’s offshore wind project.</p><p>“There is a place for renewables,” Kasich replies. “But we have to be very clear: They’re very expensive. That doesn’t mean there aren’t opportunities in the state. It doesn’t mean that over time they [won’t] become less expensive. But specific projects have to be looked at very, very carefully.”</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-09/RS4524_Wind_Farm_C26-scr.jpg" style="width: 275px; height: 184px; margin-left: 15px; margin-right: 2px; margin-top: 5px; float: right;" title="A tugboat captain who knows about Lake Erie wind recalls cleaning a seasick crewmate with a hose. (Front and Center/Bridget Caswell)">I press Kasich, asking whether he will support the rate recovery proposed for the offshore project. He declines to answer.</p><p>Another Ohio Republican is talking about that rate recovery. State Sen. Kris Jordan, who represents suburbs north of Columbus, tells me it’s a bad idea. “I just don’t believe—when we have more affordable, more ready energy sources—that government should be subsidizing" an offshore wind farm.</p><p>Back on the Lake Erie tugboat, the vessel’s captain notices my pale color. He says he once had to clean off a seasick crewmate with a hose.</p><p>Bill Mason, the prosecutor behind the proposed wind farm, agrees I’ve seen enough of the lake. On the way back to port, he shakes his head at the thought of a natural-gas boom tripping up his project.</p><p>“We don’t know how much energy is going to be produced from this fracking,” Mason says. “We don’t know the environmental damage that possibly could happen from it. And we don’t know what it’s going to cost, if there is damage, for that recovery. If we take that step down that road, won’t it be nice to know that we have other alternatives such as the wind industry out here on the Great Lakes?”</p><p>And wouldn’t it be nice, Mason adds, if the center of that industry were Cleveland?</p><p>&nbsp;</p><h2>Great Lakes wind projects struggle for footing</h2><p>Offshore wind-energy advocates face tall hurdles in the Great Lakes, but some projects are advancing. WBEZ’s Maham Khan brings us these snapshots.</p><script type="text/javascript" src="http://public.tableausoftware.com/javascripts/api/viz_v1.js"></script><div class="tableauPlaceholder" style="width: 554px; height: 769px;"><noscript><a href="#"><img alt="Offshore wind " src="http:&#47;&#47;public.tableausoftware.com&#47;static&#47;images&#47;Gr&#47;GreatLakesoffshorewindfarmproposalsandstudies&#47;Offshorewind&#47;1_rss.png" style="height: 100%; width: 100%; border: none" /></a></noscript><object class="tableauViz" style="display: none;" width="554" height="769"><param name="host_url" value="http%3A%2F%2Fpublic.tableausoftware.com%2F"><param name="name" value="GreatLakesoffshorewindfarmproposalsandstudies/Offshorewind"><param name="tabs" value="no"><param name="toolbar" value="yes"><param name="static_image" value="http://public.tableausoftware.com/static/images/Gr/GreatLakesoffshorewindfarmproposalsandstudies/Offshorewind/1.png"><param name="animate_transition" value="yes"><param name="display_static_image" value="yes"><param name="display_spinner" value="yes"><param name="display_overlay" value="yes"></object></div><div style="width: 554px; height: 22px; padding: 0px 10px 0px 0px; color: black; font: 8pt verdana,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;"><div style="float: right; padding-right: 8px;">&nbsp;</div></div></p> Wed, 09 Nov 2011 11:11:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/content/gas-drilling-could-take-air-out-offshore-wind