Sage grouse & wind energy
Greater sage grouse (GRSG) are a medium-sized, ground dwelling bird that occur in portions of an 11-state region including California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington and Wyoming. Due to a variety of historic land-management impacts that have occurred throughout the species range, the population has been in decline over the past several decades.
Sage grouse listing under the Endangered Species Act
Under a court settlement, FWS has agreed to revisit its prior warranted but precluded decision for sage grouse and make a final listing determination in 2015. In order to demonstrate that enough conservation measures were being undertaken to avoid federal listing by the FWS, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) issued two final policy memorandums for sage grouse management (one intended to provide interim management for sage-grouse and their habitat while the land use plans are being amended and a second to provide consistent management measures that will be incorporated in the plan amendments). This was followed by a related conservation measures document that has been designed with the express purpose of managing sage-grouse resources on BLM lands.
How the wind industry is safeguarding sage grouse
The wind industry believes that sage grouses and wind energy development can coexist. In fact, the wind industry is committed to conserving this species and acting as a positive partner in the species management. To that end, and to help inform the management process, AWEA has prepared comments on the aforfementioned draft management documents prepared by BLM and the states encompassing the sage grouse historic range.
As further demonstration of the wind industry’s commitment to understanding its impacts on sage grouse and their habitat, the Sage-Grouse Research Collaborative (Collaborative) was formed under the auspices of the National Wind Coordinating Collaborative (NWCC) Wildlife Workgroup’s Grassland and Shrub Steppe Species Subgroup (GS3). With the goal of informing wind development and sage grouse management strategies, the Collaborative coordinates studies that examine the potential impacts of wind energy development on sage grouses. Since its inception, the group has funded and managed three ongoing studies to evaluate wind energy’s impacts on sage grouse populations and determine if opportunities exist to avoid, minimize, and mitigate for these impacts once their extent is quantified.