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PERMIT APPROVED

The Klickitat County Board of Adjustment approved a conditional use permit for a 91 turbine project in Washington state -- but local Native Americans and a bird group say they will appeal the decision. The 25 MW project is to be sited in the Columbia Hills and consist of FloWind's AWT-26 turbine.

County officials in the American Northwest have approved a conditional use permit for a 91 turbine project in Washington state -- but local Native Americans and a bird group say they will appeal the decision. The Klickitat County Board of Adjustment approved the conditional permit for the Conservation and Renewable Energy Systems (CARES) -- a consortium of eight public utility districts -- on October 30.

The 25 MW project is to be sited in the Columbia Hills and consist of FloWind's AWT-26 turbine. It is to be on line by July 1996, but the Yakama Indian Nation and the Columbia Gorge Audubon Society, a local group of National Audubon, say they will continue fighting the project because it will be too close to Juniper point, a place that is culturally significant for Indians as well as being in the migratory path of birds.

County planning director Curt Dreyer says the project is not in a flight path and he notes that the conditional permit requires the project's bird consultant to review existing literature and field studies and project developers to allow Indians the same level of access to Juniper Point.

The turbines will also be on tubular towers, notes CARES project manager, Ben Wolff. These are believed to be less dangerous to birds than lattice towers. Wolff also says the bird studies are adequate and found there would be no impact. An expert concluded that fewer than two birds would be killed yearly, he says.

In contrast, Audubon disputes the environmental studies, saying birds were not counted at night and long term studies have not been conducted. Indeed the group's conservation chairman, Dennis White, says they may appeal against the decision in front of county commissioners and in the courts if necessary. He says his group is not opposed to the project, only its proposed location.

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