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Wind Farm in San Gorgonio
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Wind Farm in San Gorgonio

July 15, 2005

In southern California, high and rugged mountains encircle the Los Angeles Basin like a fortress. Only a few passes exist that are large and level enough for ground transportation infrastructure like highways and train tracks. The passes create intense natural wind tunnels suitable for power generation from wind turbines.

This image shows wind turbines in the San Gorgonio Pass, which cuts a wide gap through the San Bernardino Mountains to the north and the San Jacinto Mountains to the south. The burnt-orange landscape is dotted with shrubs or small trees. Turbine access roads branch out from numerous “handles”like multi-pronged rakes. The blades of the turbines cast black shadows on the ground. The silvery braided channels of a dry wash weave across the upper right corner of the scene.

Although wind turbines are valuable as a source of clean energy, some controversy brews over whether the wind farms pose an increased hazard to birds that use the same wind tunnels as migratory and hunting routes. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and several conservation and wildlife groups are studying these areas to determine if the wind farms actually do create a significant hazard to birds, and if so, what steps power companies could take to lessen the hazard.



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