Library filed under Impact on Birds from Colorado
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper has issued an executive order to protect the state’s greater sage grouse population in a move meant to avoid potential federal regulations that could come with an endangered status for the bird. ...The sage grouse saga has played out both in Western states like Colorado, where officials are trying to avoid an endangered species listing, and in Congress, where Republican lawmakers have also worked to keep the bird off the list.
Speakers at the recent American Wind Energy Association conference held at the University of Denver identified significant challenges: inadequate transmission, lack of certainty about the production tax credit, and the chilling effect that the death of eagles in turbine blades has had in siting decisions. ...After the session, one of the wind industry members confided that indeed it’s not all wine and roses for the industry. “Transmission and eagles – they’re both huge.”
“Coloradans treasure their environment. This bill will protect our sacred Bald Eagles and other bird species that currently are being killed in alarming numbers,” Senator Balmer said. “This legislation will require prudent steps renewable energy producers must take as they site and operate their facilities.”
Meanwhile, whirling turbine blades and electrical lines running to oil and gas facilities and wind farms have been linked to golden eagle deaths. Nobody has a good handle on how many eagles and other raptors are caught in blades or electrocuted; scientists have calculated in peer-reviewed articles that turbines kill at least 60 to 65 golden eagles a year nationwide.
The Obama administration should redraft the rules with an eye toward installing stronger wildlife protections that take into account how migratory birds live and travel. It's not too much to ask from an industry that is supposed to be environmentally friendly.
This useful paper examines the impact of wind turbine development on species habitat use. In particular, this paper focuses on bird species residing in American grasslands. The abstract of the paper is provided below. The full paper can be downloaded from the links on this page.
A giant wind farm in northeast Weld County may be a groundbreaking model of how to generate clean, renewable energy while protecting wildlife occupying the same space. But it's also been on the receiving end of some environmental criticism. ...Ken Strom, director of bird conservation for Audubon Colorado, said he is disappointed that Cedar Creek's developers did not move all the turbines away from the escarpment. "In terms of the outcome of the hearings, I don't think (our concerns) were adequately addressed," he said. "I think they tried to meet a number of our concerns but they fought to move a minimum of the turbines." Strom notes that some birds will be killed as a result of having the turbines within their traditional nesting areas and others will simply avoid the area out of fear of the constantly whooshing towers.
Now something else catches your eye on the horizon, and as you edge closer to the Clear Creek Wind Farm, you'll see white turbines with three huge helicopter-like blades dotted all over the landscape. Plans for those blades raised the concerns of biologists who aren't fooled by the appearance of wasteland in northeastern Weld and know how important the habitat is to raptors and the occasional ground bird. There was good reason for their concerns: When the first experimental wind farm was erected years ago in California, hundreds, even thousands, of raptors were wiped out by the blades. And the area Cedar Creek creators chose was prime raptor habitat.
So far, the Colorado Division of Wildlife has documented more than 70 raptor nests in the project area. Among those species: Swainson's hawks, ferruginous hawks, golden eagles and prairie falcons. The area, along with the Comanche National Grassland, is recognized by the National Audubon Society as a Colorado site of "global importance," said Ken Strom, Colorado Audubon's director of bird conservation.