Ameren Missouri, with oversight from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, has begun installing 1,000 “swan diverters” on about 1.5 miles of high-voltage “transmission” power lines that cross the Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary near Alton, Ill.
The devices—each about 24 inches long and resembling a large yellow corkscrew—will be installed by workers from helicopters hovering between 75 and 150 feet off the ground. They will be placed on the highest wires the transmission towers. Called “static wires,” they do not carry electric current but instead are designed to absorb lightning strikes.
Each winter, about 500 swans from Upper Midwest breeding grounds winter at the sanctuary. Agents from the USFWS Office of Law Enforcement, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and officials from Ameren Missouri became concerned about evidence of swans being injured or killed by flying into the transmission wires. With the diverters in place, the birds should be better able to see the structures and fly over or under them, protecting the birds and electric reliability.
“We take our commitment to environmental stewardship very seriously,” says Ameren Missouri Managing Supervisor of Water Quality Management John Pozzo. “Over the years we have taken on various projects to protect wildlife, from installing peregrine falcon hack boxes to rescuing eagles, birds of prey and even a pelican from power plant properties.”
Nearly extinct at the turn of the twentieth century, over the past 30 years, Trumpeter Swan populations have risen by about 400 percent, due to the conservation efforts of USFWS, the Trumpeter Swan Society, various state department of natural resources, conservation areas like the Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary and concerned citizens.
“This growing winter population supports the Mississippi Flyway Council’s efforts to disperse the wintering population of this Upper Midwest nester to suitable sites south of the breeding range where they find both abundant forage and a more hospitable climate,” says John Christian, Assistant Director for Migratory Birds and State Programs, USFWS. Christian adds, “We are most pleased to see industry partnering on protecting these majestic birds.”
Charlie Duetsch of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says that helping the wintering swans is in line with the sanctuary’s and the Corps’ commitment to stewardship, environmental education and expanded outdoor recreation opportunities.
“The swan project allows us to balance the role of the rivers in a national transportation corridor, the environmental attributes of the area and the modern-day need for power,” he says. “It’s a very unique and creative project.”
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Tim Fox, 314-554-4335, firstname.lastname@example.org
Ameren Missouri has been providing electric and gas service for more than a century, and our electric rates are among the lowest in the nation. We serve 1.2 million electric and 127,000 natural gas customers in central and eastern Missouri. Our mission is to meet their energy needs in a safe, reliable, efficient and environmentally responsible manner. Our service area covers 57 counties and 500 towns, including the greater St. Louis area. For more information, visit AmerenMissouri.com.