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Six Flags Great Adventure's Environmental Impact Statement argued that there will be no significant impact on populations of any wildlife species residing on site.
That, too, turned out to be false...
"11 of the 13 Rare wildlife species on site are likely to experience significant impacts to the local breeding population." Tweet this
Here are a few highlights from Dr. DeVito's testimony on the impact of Six Flags Solar Power Plant site clearing and construction on the wildlife population, including 13 Rare species.
- There are well over 1,000 of forest-dependent wildlife species that breed on the site. There are about 80-90 species of vertebrates and approximately 1,500 species of invertebrates inhabiting the forest.
- Few of the wildlife species on the site will escape the construction process, but of those few that manage to move off-site, almost none will ever return after construction. Typical forest species will not utilize a habitat of shaded ground interspersed with lawn grass, except for a handful of rodents and backyard birds.
- Few species that inhabit this forest have mobility in the face of forest clearing and grading activity. Cryptic or fossorial animals, from vertebrates like small snakes, salamanders, flying squirrels, shrews, and owls inhabit soil, organic leaf litter, rotting stumps, or tree cavities. For more than a thousand invertebrate animal species, their home ranges are minute, and individuals cannot even move the distances required to escape construction activities. Almost none of these species can move successfully – they will simply be destroyed.
- A few animal species, for example a small woodpecker or gray squirrel, may escape the construction process and attempt to settle in a surrounding habitat. However, these displaced animals usually fare poorly, because the habitats they enter are already occupied by other individuals that are familiar with resource distribution and outcompete the displaced animals. Mobile common species cannot simply escape and survive elsewhere.
- Numerous population biology studies reveal that increases in surrounding density when animals flee a disturbance are short-lived; there is simply “no room at the inn.” Habitat destruction is well-supported in ecological literature as the leading cause of the decline in animal populations. The Six Flags Environmental Impact Statement ignores this established fact of animal population biology.
- The EIS lists 13 Rare species, but ignores 5 species in the discussion, and incorrectly concludes that no significant impact will occur to 6 of the 8 species discussed. The EIS reaches a correct conclusion of “no significant impact” to species populations or critical habitat for only 2 of the 13 listed species; therefore 11 Rare species are likely to experience significant impacts to the local breeding population.
- The two Rare reptile species that occur on-site (Northern Pine Snake and Box Turtle) become immobilized when startled and are highly cryptic and secretive, and cannot possibly survive the construction activity.
- 8 of the other 9 Rare species are declining rapidly region-wide, and will lose breeding habitat as it is destroyed, even if (due to migration) they are not present during construction.