Special Edition: Wind Energy
The PPJV evaluated the current science and tools to inform energy development and provide recommendations for responsible development that are shared among the partnership. These assessments led to conception of the Guiding Principles for Wind Energy Development. This suite of guiding principles is intended to convey common elements among PPJV partners and help facilitate coordination that supports bird-friendly wind energy development in the region.
The Habitat and Population Evaluation Team is using data from the North American Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) to evaluate potential displacement of birds at wind farms. Bird-habitat models using stop-level BBS data are the foundation of this effort. These models predict bird occurrence or density across all or portions of seven states as a function of landscape composition and configuration, climate, weather, and topography, as well as factors influencing bird detection on surveys.
A melding of models and tools developed through a decades-long collaboration between the USGS Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center and the USFWS Habitat and Population Evaluation Team led to the creation of the Avian-Impact Offset Method (AIOM). This science-based tool converts the biological value lost by development and estimates the acres of grasslands and number of wetlands needed to compensate for displaced pairs of grassland birds and waterfowl.
In April and May 2021, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks with the American Wind Wildlife Institute hosted a virtual workshop to open dialogue among stakeholders and collaboratively develop strategies for minimizing wildlife conflict while expanding wind energy specific to Montana. A recurring takeaway was the importance of developers reaching out to state agencies as early as possible in project planning, and much of the discussion centered around the state of wind-wildlife science.