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Voice of the Aerial Application Industry
April 5, 2018
Wind Locked LLC Working to Protect Property Rights and Aerial Applicators from Wind Turbines


In early 2017, a group of landowners in southern Minnesota grew concerned over the potential proliferation of wind turbines in their community. These residents felt these projects were unsafe and an inappropriate use of land rights, privacy and federal tax subsidies. These landowners formed Wind Locked LLC to prevent the unsafe construction and operation of large industrial wind towers.


In Minnesota, wind rights are separate from land rights, so Wind Locked acquires and holds wind easement rights for conservation and environmental purposes. Once Wind Locked acquires the wind rights, it allows them to protect, preserve and manage the airspace effectively in that area. Wind Locked does not restrict private wind generators used for individual power generation, but rather focuses on larger industrial projects. They educate landowners on wind turbines and how the fine print in contracts with wind companies can end up costing landowners money.   


The current president of Wind Locked is Carolyn Zierke, an agronomist who has worked in southern Minnesota for over 20 years. She decided to get involved with wind rights when she saw developers taking advantage of land owners who were lured into partnering by signing contracts for quick cash. “I got involved with wind because I was tired of seeing how the other side takes advantage of landowners, and they had no concern for rural residents, the land or aerial applicators,” Zierke said.


Wind Locked’s latest education effort is their “Keep ’em Flying” campaign, designed to protect eagles, bats and aerial applicators. In August 2016 an experienced ag pilot tragically died in southwest Minnesota where turbines are abundant. The aircraft struck a wire attached to a tower that monitored wind conditions for nearby turbines.


“We want pilots to do their job effectively and safely. The members of Wind Locked are proud of their productive land, record crops and quiet rural homes just as the aerial pilots are proud of their planes, airspace, families and jobs protecting customers crops,” Zierke said.


Wind Locked is an all-volunteer organization, with a board of directors elected by its members. Members of the board are all involved in local agricultural work and own homes and/or farms in the area. “They all also have children, sports, farming and community events they juggle. We are all people that want to retain all our land rights to plant a tree or put up a grain leg or hunt on our land when we want to without asking permission. These are all investments we value and do not want someone else’s asset attached to our land, or impeding our airspace in our backyard,” said Zieke. “The passion drives us. We are doing this for our neighbors, our families and for future generations who want to live and farm in an Ag/residential Zone and not an Industrial Zone.”


To get started, Wind Locked reached out to the Iowa Coalition for Rural Property Rights, a group that was formed to protect against the encroachment of wind installations. By connecting via Facebook, they were able to discuss their shared challenges. “Social media is connecting us across the country; Facebook and Twitter have made our group stronger” said Zierke. 


Wind Locked has also helped a group in a different part of Minnesota set up their own LLC called Wesner Grove Wind Locked to educate landowners on what wind leases actually mean for them, and protect their own area by holding the local wind rights.


When asked what advice Zieke would give to other groups that rely heavily on volunteers for them to operate successfully, she said, “Organize and stay tight as a group. Set up a Facebook Group. Stay informed and meet often and keep an upbeat attitude. Something that is emotionally draining and close to home can take its toll; support each other and keep driving your mission.”


NAAA started its wind tower safety education campaign in 2010 to ensure that farmers are fully informed before making decisions about wind energy development. NAAA most recently developed “Learn Before You Lease” ads that encourage landowners and growers to consider all the facts and potential ramifications before they lease their property to a wind energy entity. Part of this education campaign includes informing landowners of the potential liability that comes with the construction of wind turbines, considering the widow of an ag pilot in California was awarded a $6.7 million settlement after her husband struck a metrological evaluation tower resulting in his death.


To find out more about Wind Locked, you can go to its website at or Twitter page, @windlockedllc.

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This newsletter is intended for NAAA members only. NAAA requests that should any party desire to publish, distribute or quote any part of this newsletter that they first seek the permission of the Association. The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed herein do not necessarily represent those of the National Agricultural Aviation Association (NAAA), its Board of Directors, staff or membership. Items in this newsletter are not the result of paid advertising and are only meant to highlight newsworthy developments. No endorsement by NAAA is intended or implied.
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