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Research to determine how wind farms affect wildlife

HAYS, Kan. - As interest in wind farms expands across Kansas, researchers are working to see how some of the state's native wildlife, particularly prairie chickens, are affected by the farms' huge turbines.

The Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, the National Wind Coordinating Committee, wind farm developers and federal agencies are paying for the research, which could help decide where or if wind farms are built.

Kansas State University researchers Brett Sandercock and Samantha Wisely will lead the research effort. They'll concentrate on areas in the Flint Hills, which are prime territory for the greater prairie chicken, a species often used to measure the overall health of grasslands.

The four-year research study will be conducted on land where wind energy projects are proposed and on sites where development is not planned, the wildlife and parks department said in a statement.

Researchers also might study the Elk River Wind Power Project near Beaumont in Butler County and compare prairie chicken activities in that developed area with an area with no wind farms.

The Elk River project is the only one in the Flint Hills that is producing energy; the rest have been bitterly contested by area landowners.

The effect of wind energy on wildlife is largely unknown in Kansas. Some studies have shown that prairie chickens will avoid manmade structures, so researchers will try to determine how the animals react to... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

The Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, the National Wind Coordinating Committee, wind farm developers and federal agencies are paying for the research, which could help decide where or if wind farms are built.
 
Kansas State University researchers Brett Sandercock and Samantha Wisely will lead the research effort. They'll concentrate on areas in the Flint Hills, which are prime territory for the greater prairie chicken, a species often used to measure the overall health of grasslands.
 
The four-year research study will be conducted on land where wind energy projects are proposed and on sites where development is not planned, the wildlife and parks department said in a statement.
 
Researchers also might study the Elk River Wind Power Project near Beaumont in Butler County and compare prairie chicken activities in that developed area with an area with no wind farms.
 
The Elk River project is the only one in the Flint Hills that is producing energy; the rest have been bitterly contested by area landowners.
 
The effect of wind energy on wildlife is largely unknown in Kansas. Some studies have shown that prairie chickens will avoid manmade structures, so researchers will try to determine how the animals react to wind farm towers, which can reach several hundred feet tall.
 
"The research is very, very needed," said Randy Rodgers, a wildlife biologist at the KDWP office in Hays. "No question about that."
 
The Nature Conservancy, which has donated a small amount of money toward the research project, has also raised concerns about the lack of state guidelines for wind farm placement. Conservationists also worry that studying the effects of wind farms on prairie chickens will require the sacrifice of pristine land.
 
"My question is, what are the options?" said Rob Manes, the agency's director of conservation.
 


Source: http://www.kansas.com/mld/...

MAY 13 2006
http://www.windaction.org/posts/2618-research-to-determine-how-wind-farms-affect-wildlife
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