Thumbs up to the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission for voting Monday to make it a policy to prohibit wind energy development on all of the state’s public wildlife management areas.
Earlier this year, a controversy erupted when OG&E wanted to build a wind farm on the Cooper Wildlife Management Area near Woodward. After a public outcry from sportsmen, OG&E backed off and withdrew its proposal.
A committee of state wildlife commissioners, however, continued with a study on the issue with the purpose of making a recommendation to the full commission.
The committee concluded wind farms on the public land would be a bad idea. At its monthly meeting Monday, state wildlife commissioners voted 8-0 to approve a resolution to prohibit wind turbines on state Wildlife Department owned wildlife management areas.
Commissioner John Groendyke, who is on OG&E’s Board of Directors, abstained from the vote.
“The construction, maintenance and operation of wind farms and their electrical transmission lines will in some instances conflict with the agency’s mission,” the resolution states. “Wind farms and their transmission infrastructure can damage wildlife habitat, contribute to habitat fragmentation and adversely affect behavior, movement and in some caes reproduction of wildlife species in a large area surrounding such facilities.
“While the primary objectives of these lands is wildlife management and the first priority of public use of WMAs is to permit hunting, fishing, trapping, running dogs for sport and associated activities, restrictions on human activity due to wind farms would result in loss of public use of these areas both in quantity and quality.”
State wildlife commissioners made the right move. The public’s wildlife management areas belong to the sportsmen of the state. Wind turbines not only would disrupt wildlife but ruin the “outdoors” experience for us all.