MNR expert on wildlife unaware of birds on County South Shore: testimony at appeal

Ummm, I don't know? Kathleen Pitt of the MNRF decides who gets to die.
Kathleen Pitt of the MNRF didn’t know there were birds on the South Shore or turtles in Prince Edward County. She decides which permits to grant for wind power

This report from the Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County (APPEC), the appellant in the appeal of the White Pines wind power project approval, is just stunning: the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry staffer in charge of issuing permits was completely unaware that the power plant site was an important location for migratory birds and home to at-risk species. In other words, she just took the wind developer at their word, and did not investigate further. No oversight on this process at all, is the only conclusion one can come to.

Report on Environmental Review Tribunal Hearing on White Pines Wind Project

November 30

On Day Fourteen the Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) of the White Pines wind project heard the testimony of Kathleen Pitt and Dr. Brock Fenton.

Ms. Pitt, summoned by APPEC and qualified by the Tribunal as “a biologist,” has a B.A. in Environmental and Resource Studies and is a manager with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forests (MNRF).  She was responsible chiefly for assessing the Species-at-Risk report for White Pines, recommending Endangered Species Act (ESA) permits for the bobolink, eastern meadowlark, and whip-poor-will, and deciding not to recommend a permit for the Blanding’s turtle.  She explained that ESA, or “overall benefit,” permits are issued when it is possible to compensate for harm through other activities like research or habitat restoration.  Permits are not issued when avoidance and mitigation measures are considered sufficient.
Under examination by APPEC counsel Eric Gillespie, Pitt showed she was slightly familiar with the nearby locations of the Prince Edward Point National Wildlife Area, Point Petre Provincial Wildlife Area, and South Shore Important Bird Area (SSIBA), and was not at all familiar with the Prince Edward Point ANSI (Area of Natural and Scientific Interest) or the Miller Family Nature Reserve.  She also admitted that she did not know the SSIBA has the highest concentration of migratory birds in eastern Ontario, has the highest concentration of migratory raptors and saw-whet owls, has high bat migration, and is a significant stopover site for migrating birds.  Nor did she know that diversity of habitat is best for migrating birds, undisturbed sites are preferred, and migrating sites are unique in exposing ascending and descending birds to wind turbines.  Consequently, perhaps, she did not agree that “the South Shore is a funnel for migration.”
For Blanding’s turtles, Pitt never consulted MNRF herpetology expert Joe Crowley.  She said she did not know if the entire South shore was their territory but conceded that Ostrander Point turtles could move offsite. Though she had not read the entire ERT decision on Ostrander Point, she disagreed that it was necessary to exclude turbines.  She felt that standard setbacks of 120m from wetlands as well as other avoidance and mitigation measures would provide protection.
Brock Fenton, Ph.D., a professor emeritus at Western University, was qualified as an “expert in bat biology.”   He said it was well established that operating wind turbines kill bats.  The mortality can be significant because bats have a low reproductive rate (one per female per year) and 60 percent of young perish in the first year.  The little brown bat is especially vulnerable due to an estimated 90-percent population drop since 2009 from White Nose Syndrome.  However, considering uncertainty about the size of bat populations, Dr. Fenton said that all species are a “grave cause for concern.”
In cross-examination Dr. Fenton disagreed with the condition in the White Pines Renewable Energy Approval that mitigation is necessary only if bat deaths total 10 per turbine per year.  He said that even one dead bat should trigger a shutdown because it is possible to use acoustic monitoring for bats and to turn off turbines when they are present.
The ERT resumes Tuesday, December 1, 10 a.m., at the Essroc Centre, Wellington.

-Henri Garand, APPEC

What's your reaction?


  • Lynda
    Posted December 1, 2015 11:22 am 0Likes

    What does ‘slightly familiar’ mean? After reading this report, the only conclusion one can come to is that the this personof was not familiar at all with the terrain or wildlife in the Whitepines project area and yet she was making decisions? Someone must have put her in this position. Who was that person and did they themselves know anything about this particular area? This issue gets more unbelievable by the day.

  • Andre Lauzon
    Posted December 1, 2015 11:24 am 0Likes

    How many employees like Pitt, are on the “sunshine” list, and are all wrapped up in a university degree but are useless, inefficient employees.
    Job guarantee and big pension but a bit short on the integrity and work ethics they should have to merit those perks.

  • Barbara
    Posted December 1, 2015 11:45 am 0Likes

    Can’t this person even look up information on the internet? They don’t even have to make trips to the library anymore. So what are their excuses?
    The education these people have received is not what most people think it is and should be.

  • ScepticalGord
    Posted December 1, 2015 12:18 pm 0Likes

    OMG, your like, trashing my credentials. Whateverrrrr!!!
    Are you like sayin’ they sent a Twinkie to do a woman’s work? How gross!
    There’s no birds in my brain, just like there’s no birds in Prince Edward County, wherever that is, LOL!!!
    Sorry, can’t chatter anymore, gotta do some textin’, check out my BFF’s new squeeze and fawn over Sophie-G-T’s new hat. Its like, soooo cool!

  • Sommer
    Posted December 1, 2015 2:56 pm 0Likes

    Has anyone else ever noticed that very young, relatively inexperienced people…no doubt with appropriate degrees… are being put in positions in Ontario where they’re making significant decisions, long before they have acquired a broad enough experiential background in their area of expertise? Is this being done on purpose?

    • Lynda
      Posted December 1, 2015 7:11 pm 0Likes

      In this case, I wouldn’t say her degree is appropriate….Bachelor of Arts?? She is making decisions that will impact peoples’ lives/deaths forever not to mention killing off everything she is supposed to protect as an employee of MNR.. You’re right about the very young being given positions far above their field ofexpertise though…it’s because they can be CONTROLLED. Have you ever known a politician that wants or hires an intelligent underling? Not very likely…they want to appear as the intelligent one and having a dunce working for them makes them FEEL smart.

  • Tracy
    Posted December 1, 2015 4:55 pm 0Likes

    Good observation Sommer. It would be my guess that these young inexperienced people are associates of Justin Trudeau and his Liberal party. Don’t kid yourself, JT is not the man he has portrayed to the public.
    The Bachelor of Arts in Environment and Resource Studies is not a science degree. It encompasses some biology courses (few), geography and ecology. I started my university career years ago in the Faculty of Environment and Resource Studies at the University of Waterloo. At that time, I felt there were many grey areas; important decisions were being made that lacked researched, scientific supporting material. I changed majors.
    The information Miss Pitt has provided is a mere guess; no doubt to support the wind company. I would classify her as an environmentalist.
    She appears to be a nice looking girl and lacks the credentials essential in a scientific degree. She is perfect for the job. I wouldn’t like to think there was any grooming or any other incentives received by her from the government to pull off this testimony…

  • Raymond Beaudry
    Posted December 2, 2015 9:29 am 0Likes

    So I expect the IBA on Northeastern Manitoulin Island was of no concern for the MOE in regards to the Northland Power Inc 20,000 acre, 24 wind turbine Mclean’s Mountain Wind LP Project. As well as this project in the article, here are other projects with IBA’s identified by the Liberals also.

    • Barbara
      Posted December 2, 2015 12:03 pm 0Likes

      Aren’t there some “groupies” affiliated with James Hansen in your area?

      • Barbara
        Posted December 2, 2015 12:51 pm 0Likes

        Citizens’ Climate Lobby/CCL, Coronado, Calif.
        Canadian Chapters include:
        Can, Manitoulin – Sheguiandah, ON
        Advisory Board includes: Dr. James Hansen
        Website has a list of the Canadian chapters by province. Ontario has several chapters.

        • Lynda
          Posted December 2, 2015 1:11 pm 0Likes

          Thank you Barbara. Your information is always interesting and helpful. Please keep it coming across all the boards.

        • Barbara
          Posted December 2, 2015 3:20 pm 0Likes

          Citizens’ Climate Lobby, Canada
          First chapter was est. Sept., Sept. 2010 in Sudbury, ON.

          The parent organization is in the U.S.

      • Barbara
        Posted December 2, 2015 9:56 pm 0Likes

        Yale Climate Connections
        Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies
        Partners include: Thomson Reuters
        Thomson Reuters is a major MSM source for financial information with Canadian connections.

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