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The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • Outdoors: Power lines in Squaw Creek?

  • “This big electric grid that goes through our wetland would change the waterfowl flight patterns,” Robert E. Lee of Mound City, Mo., said. “This would change a flight pattern that has existed since time began.”
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  • “This big electric grid that goes through our wetland would change the waterfowl flight patterns,” Robert E. Lee of Mound City, Mo., said. “This would change a flight pattern that has existed since time began.”
    Federal wildlife areas are sacred ground to hunters and conservationists. So it was little surprise when a large group of landowners and hunters attended the Kansas City Power and Light’s Midwest Transmission Project Meeting in Fairfax, Mo.
    The project could place huge power lines through the middle of the Mound City area and close to Squaw Creek Federal Wildlife Management area, a major waterfowl stopover in the Mississippi flyway.
    The proposed 345-kilo volt transmission line from the Sibley Power Station would include 1,000-foot long spans, 550-by-100 foot high poles, easement widths from 100 to 160 feet and months of construction and visits for maintenance.
    This has wildlife management personnel and landowners worried for a number of reasons.
    Squaw Creek is an important waterfowl stopover in the Mississippi flyway. For example Ron Bell, manager at Squaw Creek Refuge, issued a paper that claimed in 2012 that counts showed 201,439 ducks, 1,253,380 geese, 141 bald eagles and 314 trumpeter swans visited Squaw Creek in the spring and almost the same numbers in the fall.
    Landowners in the area are simply worried about losing hunting opportunities. Many depend on annual proceeds from renting blinds to pay their mortgage.
    KCPL maintain that this proposed line route will be decided this month. Many landowners are shocked by the quickness of this decision.
    A first meeting was held with little publicity and light attendance. But KCPL is listening to landowners and other opinions before deciding where to place the lines.
    “We are bringing to the public a map with potential routes segments,” said Janet Waddell, community relations for the company. “The importance of these meetings is gaining feedback from land owners and federal, or state leaders from Missouri groups. We still do not know what the final route will be, but that is the purpose of these public meetings. We want to hear people’s concerns.”
    KCPL maintains that these huge transmission lines will never go through federal areas like Squaw Creek, but it may go past it, as close as two miles. That is too close according to Squaw Creek manager Ron Bell.
    “I think what they have done is put a bunch of power lines suggestions across the map,” Bell said. “The bad news is, the lines run within two miles of the Squaw Creek Refuge where we concentrate a large number of birds. There are a large number of hunting clubs around the refuge this will affect many are adjacent to our boundary. Waterfowl will be deflected away from these clubs, hurting the local economy.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Bell fears that this interference will hurt the community’s financial resources and fewer birds will come back to the refuge.
    “Even worse,” he said. “We have already had three trumpeter swans this winter killed by hitting power lines. We had 314 trumpeter swans visit this fall and none 10 years ago. We are very protective of these birds.”
    The KCPL still maintains they want to listen to landowners and Conservation leaders, but there are many issues.
    “We try to be sensitive to the environment and replace everything back like it was when we are done,” said Joab Ortiz, community relations manager for the KCPL Midwest region. “We worked with all the state and federal wildlife agencies showing the study areas and potential routes. We got feedback and made some adjustments. We have hundreds of routes and are trying to understand what is best for the communities.”
    Most in the wildlife groups and Mound City Community feel the power lines are probably needed, but should be built away from the hunting and refuge center.
    “I own 80 acres of duck hunting property with two blinds and a home,” said Mike Wolfe, veteran Mound City hunter. “These power lines would completely close us down and it seems to be aimed straight through our property. I have three generations of family that comes here every fall from Colorado, New York, Iowa, Kansas and Minnesota and there would be no reason for them to come to Mound City ever again. Move the power line north above Craig, Missouri where there are no concentrations of wet lands or refuge property.”
    “I own 2,000 acres in the Squaw Creek region,” Lee said. “The B-26 Grid divides my farm and comes within 200 yards of my home. I have several irrigation pivots through there, 30 blinds and a duck lake. I rent the blinds annually for between $8,000 to $10,000 and this helps pay my mortgage. This big electric grid that goes through our wetland would change the waterfowl flight patterns. This would change a flight pattern that has existed since time began.”
    The decision on where to run the power grids will be decided in February. You may express your opinion on detouring this line away from the Mound City/Squaw Creek region by writing: Midwest Transmission Project, c/o Joab Ortiz, Burns and McDonald, 9400 Ward Parkway, Kansas City, MO 64114.
    You can also call 855-222-1291 or e-mail info@midwesttransmissionproject.com
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