Quantcast

Mitigation for Energy Projects Offers Hope for Threatened Birds

The U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) announced a new strategy to avoid and mitigate the impact of energy projects on federal lands that should benefit imperiled species such as the Greater Sage-Grouse. The Strategy for Improving the Mitigation Policies and Practices of the DOI stems from Secretarial Order Number 3330 issued by DOI Secretary Jewell in Oct. 2013, which seeks to shift from project-by-project mitigation to landscape-level planning.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

“Though ABC supports individual project reviews, we’re encouraged by these initiatives to avoid and minimize project impacts through advance planning,” said Steve Holmer, senior policy advisor with American Bird Conservancy (ABC). “This is the best and, in some the cases, the only way to address cumulative impacts and to conserve declining populations of wide-ranging species such as the Greater Sage-Grouse and Marbled Murrelet.”

In addition to landscape-scale science assessments and planning, the strategy follows a hierarchy that seeks to fully mitigate potential impacts. Notably, the hierarchy starts with avoidance. The strategy report states that, “If a project can reasonably be sited so as to have no negative impacts to resources of concern, then it is generally the most defensible approach. By avoiding impacts in the first place, there is no need to take further action to minimize or offset such impacts.”

“Landscape planning is urgently needed that makes the siting of wind projects a priority,” said Michael Hutchins, national coordinator of ABC’s Bird Smart Wind Energy Campaign. “We hope Secretary Jewell’s mitigation policy will catalyze reform of the wind industry, requiring siting practices that avoid key habitats and migration routes (such as those highlighted on ABC’s Wind Development Bird Risk Map) and compensating the public for unavoidable impacts that result in bird mortality.”

The report notes that major energy and infrastructure development projects can adversely affect a broad array of resources and values including birds and other wildlife. It also acknowledges that pressures for more projects is increasing, with the result that “cumulative impacts of these uses are having a significant effect on the landscape.”

“We are encouraged by the regional planning effort to conserve Greater Sage-Grouse and the potential for the Bureau of Land Management master leasing plans to reduce the impact of oil and gas drilling,” said Holmer. “Additional plans are needed to guide wind and solar development on public lands, and to recover wide-ranging species of conservation concern such as the western population of Yellow-billed Cuckoo, bi-state population of Greater Sage-Grouse and Marbled Murrelet.” 

--------

YOU ALSO MIGHT LIKE

Conservation Groups to Sue Over Wind Turbine Project in Key Bird Migration Corridor

Study Finds Up to One Billion Birds Killed in Building Collisions Each Year

Bird Death Risks Put Massive California Solar Project in Serious Doubt

--------

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Record flood water levels in Venice hit again on Sunday making this the worst week of flooding in the city in over 50 years.

Read More Show Less

By Brian Barth

Late fall, after the last crops have been harvested, is a time to rest and reflect on the successes and challenges of the gardening year. But for those whose need to putter around in the garden doesn't end when cold weather comes, there's surely a few lingering chores. Get them done now and you'll be ahead of the game in spring.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
(L) Selma Three Stone Engagement Ring. (R) The Greener Diamond Farm Project. MiaDonna

By Bailey Hopp

If you had to choose a diamond for your engagement ring from below or above the ground, which would you pick … and why would you pick it? This is the main question consumers are facing when picking out their diamond engagement ring today. With a dramatic increase in demand for conflict-free lab-grown diamonds, the diamond industry is shifting right before our eyes.

Read More Show Less
(L) 3D graphical representation of a spherical-shaped, measles virus particle that is studded with glycoprotein tubercles.
(R) The measles virus pictured under a microscope. PHIL / CDC

The Pacific Island nation of Samoa declared a state of emergency this week, closed all of its schools and limited the number of public gatherings allowed after a measles outbreak has swept across the country of just 200,000 people, according to Reuters.

Read More Show Less
Austin Nuñez is Chairman of the Tohono O'odham Nation, which joined with the Hopi and Pascua Yaqui Tribes to fight a proposed open-pit copper mine on sacred sites in Arizona. Mamta Popat

By Alison Cagle

Rising above the Arizona desert, the Santa Rita Mountains cradle 10,000 years of Indigenous history. The Tohono O'odham Nation, Pascua Yaqui Tribe, and Hopi Tribe, among numerous other tribes, have worshipped, foraged, hunted and laid their ancestors to rest in the mountains for generations.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
The Navajo Nation has suffered from limited freshwater resources as a result of climate, insufficient infrastructure, and contamination. They collaborated with NASA to develop the Drought Severity Evaluation Tool. NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Native Americans are disproportionately without access to clean water, according to a new report, "Closing the Water Access Gap in the United States: A National Action Plan," to be released this afternoon, which shows that more than two million Americans do not have access to access to running water, indoor plumbing or wastewater services.

Read More Show Less
Wild Exmoor ponies graze on a meadow in the Czech Republic. rapier / iStock / Getty Images Plus

By Nanticha Ocharoenchai

In the Czech Republic, horses have become the knights in shining armor. A study published in the Journal for Nature Conservation suggests that returning feral horses to grasslands in Podyjí National Park could help boost the numbers of several threatened butterfly species.

Read More Show Less

Despite huge strides in improving the lives of children since 1989, many of the world's poorest are being left behind, the United Nations children's fund UNICEF warned Monday.

Read More Show Less