Library filed under Impact on Birds from Kansas
A Pratt County farmer has filed a suit in federal court seeking to prevent a new wind farm in Pratt County from starting up because of the risk he believes it poses to Whooping Cranes. Edwin Petrowsky, a former member of the Pratt County Zoning Commission, filed the suit Nov. 23 seeking temporary and permanent injunctions against NextEra Energy Resources.
This important paper examines the direct impacts of wind energy development on the mating behavior of the Greater Prairie Chickens. The abstract and conclusions of the paper are provided below. The full paper can be accessed by clicking the links on this page.
Shifting to renewable energy sources has been widely touted as one of the best ways to fight climate change, but renewable energy can have a downside, as in the case of wind turbines' effects on bird populations. In a new paper, a group of researchers demonstrate the impact that one wind energy development in Kansas has had on Greater Prairie-Chickens breeding in the area - Central Ornithology Publication Office reported.
The rule shields producers enrolled in the plan and operating in compliance with it from punishment for the accidental death or disturbance of the bird the EPA has targeted for listing as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.
The collaborative research effort was initiated by the National Wind Coordinating Collaborative Wildlife Workgroup Grassland and Shrub Steppe Species Subgroup to establish whether there are effects from wind structures to prairie chickens in the Midwest.
That's because general plans for the 345-kilovolt route, known as the V-Plan and including a connecting line into Oklahoma, appear to take the line through prime nesting and breeding habitat for the Lesser Prairie-Chicken in both states. With an estimated two-thirds of the unique bird's original habitat already eliminated by development, officials warn that further encroachment could place the bird on the nation's endangered species list.
The greater prairie chicken of eastern Kansas has been declining with the encroachment of man. Roads have broken up vast rangeland, as well as oil wells, wind farms and cell phone towers. Cedars and other trees and shrubs have invaded their territory. Suburban development also is a factor as a growing number of residents buy small parcels of land to build a home.
A century ago prairie chickens may have been the most common wild bird on the High Plains. Today's lesser prairie chicken population is thought to be just 3 percent of what it was a century ago. Wildlife experts say the reason is simple: native grasslands are disappearing and without the habitat they need, prairie chickens are dying off. ...And now wind turbines threaten to blanket parts of the grassland.
An estimated 266 whoopers - the largest wild flock of endangered whooping cranes - will migrate from Wood Buffalo National Park in the Canadian Northwest Territories to Aransas National Wildlife Refuge on the Gulf Coast of Texas this fall. This migration route takes them directly through the center of the Central Flyway ...threats to the flock, including water and land development in Texas, wind farm construction in the migration corridor, and tar sands waste ponds in Canada all increased in 2008.
Wind project developer, owner, and operator Horizon Wind Energy will offset the effects of its new wind farm in north central Kansas by investing in a 20,000 acres of offsite habitat restoration to benefit grassland birds, especially the greater prairie-chicken. Horizon Wind Energy signed the conservation investment agreement Wednesday with the Ranchland Trust of Kansas and The Nature Conservancy of Kansas.
Whooping cranes, one of the world's rarest birds, have waged a valiant battle against extinction. But federal officials warn of a new potential threat to the endangered whoopers: wind farms. Down to as few as 16 in 1941, the gargantuan birds that migrate 2,400 miles each fall from Canada to Texas, thanks to conservation efforts, now number about 266. But because wind energy, one of the fastest growing sources of renewable energy, has gained such traction, whooping cranes could again be at risk - from either crashing into the towering wind turbines and transmission lines or because of habitat lost to the wind farms. "Basically you can overlay the strongest, best areas for wind turbine development with the whooping crane migration corridor," said Tom Stehn, whooping crane coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Worries about the future of the local ecosystem have cropped up as debate swirls around the proposed Ellis County wind farm. A more specific target for these concerns has been prairie chickens - both lesser and greater prairie chickens make their homes in Kansas prairies.