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Officials Tour Fort Drum Airfield as Turbine Debate Continues

A second wind turbine towers nearly 300 feet above the nearby Stirling solar array at Tooele Army Depot, Utah, March 22, 2016. (U.S. Army photo by John Prettyman)
A second wind turbine towers nearly 300 feet above the nearby Stirling solar array at Tooele Army Depot, Utah, March 22, 2016. (U.S. Army photo by John Prettyman)

FORT DRUM -- Officials with the executive committee of the Fort Drum Regional Liaison Organization toured the post's airfield, as debate continues about how wind turbines may affect the post.

The day included meetings with officials and a look into operations at the airfield's 160-foot-tall tower.

"We're formulating some thoughts and positions," Mr. Ashley said, in a phone call with the Times.

He said the committee will have further comment on their findings at a later date.

The visit comes after Fort Drum officials discussed concerns they had about potential commercial wind projects under development, and after they hosted tours for officials such as the Lewis County Legislature.

Officials told the Times the turbines can affect military and weather radar, creating a potential "black hole" of visibility and producing false weather data.

However, they insisted that rather than directly opposing all wind projects, they wanted to work with developers to reduce potential conflicts.

"We want development in the north country. That's good for the surrounding community," said former garrison commander Col. Bryan J. Laske. "We don't want to scream 'No turbines.' We want to participate more in the process."

The post's Wheeler-Sack Army Airfield houses Army and Air Force helicopters and drones, and is used for training by units across the military, including those using live bombs on its Range 48.

Airfield staff said the turbines show up similar to moving aircraft, creating a potential overload of information that would prompt the system to drop legitimate aircraft from its view.

In addition, the post is the home for an Air Force weather squadron that maintains a weather radar in Montague.

The Air Force officials said the turbines contaminate their data. As one example, they showed a "ghost echo," a secondary layer of map data that can incorrectly show weather activity, or underestimate activity taking place.

Also factoring into the discussion is the Fort Drum Joint Land Use Study, administered by the Development Authority of the North Country. Among the research points is energy development, which includes wind turbines.

--This article is written by Gordon Block from Watertown Daily Times, N.Y. and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

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