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December 20, 2007

Sportsmen to take stance on proposed wind turbines in Md.

FROSTBURG - The Allegany-Garrett Sportsmen's Association determined Tuesday that it's 2,500-member organization would weigh in concerning a recent request by US Wind Force to place windmills on state forest land managed by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

"We will research the issue and discuss the matter at our January meeting before voting on it," said Bill Wilhelm, named Tuesday as the group's president for the upcoming year.

Some, however, were ready to voice their opinions right away.

"We should oppose any windmills on state lands and also study any impacts if they would be put on private lands," said Mike Rugola, who will be AGSA's secretary during 2008.

Outgoing President Mike Griffith agreed and noted that AGSA's next meeting and vote would take place before DNR meetings on the subject are conducted.

AGSA members were concerned about the impact of such development on hunting and fishing on the Savage River and Potomac-Garrett state forests.

US Wind Force, a Pennsylvania company, has asked to lease 400 acres atop Backbone and Meadow mountains in the two state forests. About 100 windmills are envisioned.

State Sen. George Edwards, who attended the AGSA meeting Tuesday, encouraged the association to attend the DNR's local and Annapolis meetings that will deal with the power firm's request.

"State land should be the last place that this kind of development goes," Edwards said. "But, if it comes down to state land, then you want to look at locations that are close to roads and close to power lines so that less land is disturbed. The political reality of the situation is that it will probably come down to what the governor wants to do. Wind power is going to be part of our national energy effort."

Lee Osmansky said his research shows that the placement being considered could be particularly detrimental to migrating tundra swans who have been tracked using telemetry and are known to fly low over that location.

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