Whooping cranes & wind energy
To address growing concerns over the potential conflict between wind energy development and migrating whooping cranes, a majestic federally endangered species, in 2008 a group of wind energy developers and AWEA began working proactively with the leadership of the FWS Regions 2 (Southwest) and 6 (Mountain-Prairie).
Conservation plan helps wind developers & whooping cranes alike
Recognizing that some of the best wind resources in country (along the front range of the Rockies) overlap with the migration corridor of the whooping crane, a plan was proposed to create a regional, programmatic Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP), available under Section 10 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), that would run from the Texas coast, 1500 miles north to the Canadian border and cover an area 200 miles in width, covering wind energy development activities planned for this region.
This plan is anticipated to provide legal certainty for the wind developers. The plan will also provide essential planning and conservation measures to preserve the viability of the Aransas-Wood Buffalo whooping crane flock and contribute to their recovery.
Wind Energy Whooping Crane Action Team
Since the initial inception, AWEA has been serving as a coordinator and project manager for the HCP development process. At present 17 companies are participating members for the development team, known as Wind Energy Whooping Crane Action Team (WEWAG).
In addition to whooping cranes, the plan is intended to cover three additional species (i.e. lesser prairie chicken, piping plover, and interior least tern) and their critical habitats. It is currently estimated that the related HCP planning process and related NEPA will be completed in the second quarter of 2014.