Wind Energy: Doing It Right in Wyoming

By Sophie Osborn

The Wyoming Outdoor Council has amalgamated and highlighted a number of best management practices that can help reduce the impact of wind energy development on Wyoming’s wildlife.

We’ve published these recommendations in a new brochure called “Wind Energy: Doing it Right in Wyoming.”

You can click on the image to the right to view an electronic version of the brochure.


WHY WE NEED BEST MANAGEMENT PRACTICES

At first glance, harnessing the wind seems like one of the most elegant ways that we might reduce air pollution while still generating much-needed electricity to meet our nation’s needs.

Wind energy—particularly if it is coupled with energy conservation and the phaseout of traditional coal-fired power plants—could help reduce the harmful emissions that contribute to pollution and global climate change.

But industrial-scale wind development, like every type of industrial-scale development, also has associated costs. Extensive research has shown, for example, that wind farms can kill birds and bats, destroy and fragment habitat, and disturb and displace wildlife.

Fortunately though, recent research also has identified ways to reduce some of these impacts through measures such as carefully siting wind farms to avoid wildlife migration corridors and other areas that are heavily used by wildlife.

The Outdoor Council has compiled a list of such measures that can help to reduce the impact of wind energy development in this new brochure.

Wyoming Outdoor Council board and staff tour Rocky Mountain Power's Glenrock wind plant near Casper in September 2010.

We developed these best management practices after a comprehensive analysis of the literature on wind energy, an examination of wind energy studies, and a review of existing wind energy guidance policies from local, state, and federal agencies and nonprofit organizations throughout the United States.


HOW REGULAR CITIZENS CAN USE THIS BROCHURE

In addition to outlining practices that developers should employ to help ensure that wind plants are designed and sited responsibly, the Council’s brochure also takes the important step of highlighting lands where industrial-scale wind development is not appropriate.

It is our hope that wind energy developers will follow these guidelines as they work to harness Wyoming’s rich wind resource. We also hope this brochure will provide our members and the public with some accessible information about what constitutes responsible wind energy development.

We encourage our members and others to ask that developers adhere to these prescriptions whenever new projects are proposed and built.

The greater awareness we have of the potential costs of wind development and associated mitigation measures, the more likely we are to be able to develop this important source of renewable energy without causing unacceptable harm to our wildlife and the critical habitats upon which these animals depend.

Contact: Sophie Osborn, Wyoming Outdoor Council, 307-742-6138; sophie@wyomingoutdoorcouncil.org.

Sophie Osborn is a wildlife biologist and the Wyoming Outdoor Council’s wildlife program director. She is the author of the award-winning book Condors in Canyon Country.

Image above: Wyoming Outdoor Council board and staff tour Rocky Mountain Power’s Glenrock wind plant near Casper in September 2010.
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