Library filed under Impact on Wildlife from Wyoming
The finding shows the government is willing to protect sage grouse but not willing to do what's necessary, said Jon Marvel, executive director of the Hailey, Idaho-based Western Watersheds Project. "None of the actions proposed to date are mandatory, and that undermines the commitment for improving conditions for sage grouse," Marvel said.
Wildlife conservationists and energy developers alike found some encouragement in Friday's announcement that the sage grouse won't be listed as a threatened or endangered species. Many agreed that such a listing would have had a chilling effect on the agriculture and minerals industries, which are the foundation of Wyoming's economy.
The iconic sage grouse that once roamed the western U.S. plains in great numbers ...will not be listed under the Endangered Species Act, but the department will put special emphasis on preserving the chicken-sized bird on lands where oil companies want to drill and wind companies want to erect their massive turbines.
A lot of Westerners are watching whether the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is about to pursue Endangered Species Act protection for the greater sage grouse. A finding is expected by week's end and the oil and gas, livestock and wind energy industries _ to name the bigger interests concerned _ all have an enormous stake in whatever the agency decides.
Idaho and the federal government have signed an agreement that offers incentive and protection for ranchers and landowners who voluntarily take conservation steps to improve the plight of the sage grouse. ...Todd Tucci, attorney for Advocates for the West, said the bigger challenge is dealing with sage grouse habitat on public land, where wind energy development, oil and natural gas drilling and cattle grazing pose thornier policy questions.
Efforts to protect an iconic bird could disrupt oil, natural gas and wind energy development in the U.S. West and add to the Democratic Party's green woes ahead of the 2010 congressional elections. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has until Feb. 26 to decide whether or not to list the greater sage-grouse under the Endangered Species Act. This may prove politically charged as it comes in the face of opposition from energy interests and state governments who fear it will hurt economic development.
The U.S. Bureau of Land Management is directing its Wyoming offices to consider certain restrictions for oil and gas drilling, new wind turbines and other types of development in sage grouse habitat. In many cases, the BLM could limit drilling to one well pad per square mile. Also, the BLM will prohibit many activities during sage grouse breeding season each spring.
Wind energy development is "functionally precluded" in about 20 percent of Wyoming under new Bureau of Land Management guidelines laid out on Monday to protect a threatened bird, the governor's office said. ...the reality going forward will be that new developments will have to be relegated to the one oil pad per square mile."
The U.S. Bureau of Land Management is telling its field offices to mark certain fences and guy wires to make them more visible to sage grouse, sharp-tailed grouse and lesser prairie chickens. Studies have shown that barbed-wire fences can be deadly when these bird species fly into the fences without seeing them
Not much is certain about the future of sage grouse in Wyoming - including the birds' undecided status as a potentially endangered species and their possible role in curbing oil, gas and even wind energy development. But based on a number of sage grouse habitat improvement projects in development across the Bighorn Basin, one thing is certain: Boosting the bird's prospects is a slow and painstaking process.
Brian Rutledge, executive director of Audubon Wyoming out of Laramie, said golden eagles, along with other raptors, are struggling in light of the energy development around the state. Power poles are being erected in areas of the sagebrush sea ...and now raptors can perch there and pick off sage grouse. ...He said a rise in wind energy also threatens the bird.
The Uinta County Commissioners voted unanimously to deny two conditional use permits that would have allowed an additional 120 wind turbines on Bridger Butte. Bridger Butte Wind Power and Bridger Butte Wind Power II, being run by Tasco Engineering, wanted to add the turbines in the general area of Bigelow Road, and extending southward from the current project.
Horizon Wind Energy has suspended development of the Simpson Ridge wind farm in Carbon County because of Wyoming's rigid position on protecting key sage grouse habitat. Houston-based Horizon is not scrapping the project, but is placing it on hold indefinitely, project manager Nate Sandvig said Friday.
Wyoming's wind energy boom is stalling amid growing confusion over state regulations designed to protect environmentally sensitive sage grouse and how those rules should apply to wind power projects. Houston-based Horizon Wind Energy announced last week that it is indefinitely suspending plans to build a 300-megawatt-capacity wind farm that would have occupied one of dozens of state-designated "sage grouse core areas" deemed essential to protecting the imperiled bird.
They used to mine coal in the abandoned town of Carbon. Now this patch of southern Wyoming is a battleground in the debate over what many hope will be the clean energy source of the future: wind power. At the heart of the dispute are plans to build a network of wind farms in the American West that conservationists fear could disrupt threatened habitat such as sage brush, a dwindling piece of the region's fragile ecosystem.
Project manager Nate Sandvig said Friday the company has decided not to submit a permit application to the Wyoming Industrial Siting Council based on the state's recent decision not to allow wind energy development in key sage grouse habitats. ... Earlier this month, Gov. Dave Freudenthal's chief of staff, Ryan Lance, said the decision not to allow wind energy in sage grouse core areas came after consulting with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
A decision to block wind energy development from key sage grouse habitats in Wyoming could effectively nullify a significant portion of the state's wind energy resource. But exactly how much is unclear. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is considering listing the sage grouse as a threatened and endangered species. Half of the bird's remaining prime habitat in the West lies within Wyoming's borders.
Cheyenne Wind developers have asked the Department of the Interior to review Wyoming's sage grouse protection policy in light of the state's recent hard-line stance against building wind farms in important habitat areas for the chicken-sized birds. ...Wind developers say they're concerned that Wyoming's position could "abruptly halt wind energy development in Wyoming's sage-grouse 'core areas'.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says it opposes construction of any wind farms in Wyoming's core sage grouse population areas, a position that wind developers say could have a chilling effect on their plans in the state. Brian Kelly, supervisor in the agency's Wyoming field office, made the comments in a letter Tuesday responding to an inquiry from the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.
A utility company on Friday agreed to a settlement of more than $10 million following the electrocution of dozens of eagles, hawks, owls and other birds in Wyoming. PacifiCorp pleaded guilty to 34 violations of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael Shickich in Casper ordered the utility to pay a $510,000 fine and $900,000 in restitution.