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April 20, 2013

Essex County emergency radio project almost delayed by rare bird

(Continued)

“It’s whether the noise that occurs on the construction site may impact the Bicknell’s thrush mating season,” he said. “You go up at 3 a.m. and listen for the bird calls, and you document how many of them you hear. That’s how you do the study.”

RARE BIRD

The Bicknell’s thrush is listed as a rare bird that breeds in the spruce-fir forests atop some Adirondack mountains. They usually breed at higher elevations, typically above 2,800 feet.

The federal government is considering the bird for endangered-species status.

The thrush’s mating season is May 15 to Aug. 1, and Palmer said the project contractor told them it would be able to do only basic work this year after an Aug. 15 cutoff, such as putting up building shells for transmitters.

APA PERMIT IN HAND

McKeever said they’ve been working with the county so the multiple-site radio project can proceed. The APA permit for the project was issued in December 2012, he said.

“We worked with the county cooperatively to develop a permit that would meet their needs and protect the Bicknell’s thrush,” he said. “On elevations that exceed 2,800 feet, they could start work, but they would have to alter use of heavy machinery from May 15 to Aug. 1. That’s the known breeding time for the Bicknell’s thrush.”

The permit conditions state that if they want to do construction between those dates, the Bicknell’s thrush study must be done to ensure the bird won’t be disturbed.

“It’s in the permit that if they want to do those types of activities, they have to do an assessment,” McKeever said. “It’s only if they choose to do that type of work.”

ROOFTOP CUPOLA

The Olympic Regional Development Authority operates Whiteface Mountain Ski Center, and Essex County plans to replace the Ski Patrol shack on the summit of Little Whiteface Mountain in Wilmington with a new one to house its transmitter. A microwave dish will be housed inside a rooftop cupola that’s designed to look like a clock.

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