Putting Wind Turbines Out of Wildlife's Way

Putting Wind Turbines Out of Wildlife's Way

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has issued voluntary federal guidelines to minimize the impact of wind power facilities on wildlife by approving them in the right places. Audubon is doing its part, too.

By Amber Williams
Published: November-December 2011

Allegheny Front (above) Spanning Pennsylvania, Maryland, and West Virginia, it's an Important Bird Area as well as a migratory pathway for bats. Local Audubon members are actively educating government officials about the dangers to golden eagles, saw-whet owls, and the endangered Indiana bat in the hopes of preventing further industry development there. 

Texas The state is a hotspot for wind power development, including offshore wind farms. Audubon Texas and local chapters have written to regulators asking for more time to investigate the effects on native and migrating birds. 

New Mexico The New Mexico Wind and Wildlife Collaborative, which includes Audubon New Mexico, is working to integrate wildlife management into the state's wind regulations. Nesting grassland birds, including the lesser prairie-chicken, are of special concern. 

Wyoming After mapping crucial habitat for the sage-grouse throughout Wyoming and surrounding states, Audubon and its allies successfully negotiated with wind companies and policy makers to keep turbines out of areas vital to the survival of the threatened species. 

San Diego Closely monitoring wind power projects throughout Southern California, the San Diego Audubon Society is especially concerned about one proposed for McCain Valley, because the area is crucial to migrating birds, including raptors. Audubon has been meeting with both industry and government officials to push for proper siting. 

Oregon Thanks to efforts from local Audubon chapters, the state now has guidelines for wind energy development on the Columbia Plateau. Though voluntary, they are a major step forward in taking bird and bat migratory paths into account when planning new wind developments.

To learn more about Audubon's policy for the siting of wind energy installations, visit bit.ly/NASwind.

Magazine Category

Author Profile