Energy development is rapidly escalating in resource-rich Wyoming, and with it the risks posed to raptor populations. These risks are of increasing concern to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which is responsible for protecting the persistence of protected species, including raptors. In support of a Federal mandate to protect trust species and the wind energy industry’s need to find suitable sites on which to build wind farms, scientists at the USGS Fort Collins Science Center (FORT) and their partners are conducting research to help reduce impacts to raptor species from wind energy operations. Potential impacts include collision with the turbine blades and habitat disruption and disturbance from construction and operations. This feature describes a science-based tool—a quantitative predictive model—being developed and tested by FORT scientists to potentially avoid or reduce such impacts. This tool will provide industry and resource managers with the biological basis for decisions related to sustainably siting wind turbines in a way that also conserves important habitats for nesting golden eagles. Because of the availability of comprehensive data on nesting sites, golden eagles in Wyoming are the prototype species (and location) for the first phase of this investigation.
Interactive Energy Atlas for Colorado and New Mexico [Website]
Carr, N.B., N. Babel, J. Diffendorfer, S. Hawkins, D. Ignizio, N. Latysh, K. Leib, J. Linard, and A.M. Matherne
The Energy and Environment in the Rocky Mountain Area (EERMA) project is composed of interdisciplinary U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientists working to provide land management agencies and decision makers with synthesized information and comprehensive, virtual tools to promote understanding of the trade-offs of energy development. The purpose of the Interactive Energy Atlas is to provide data and decision support tools to visualize and assess the potential effects of energy development on terrestrial/hydrological resources at multiple scales...
Locations and attributes of utility-scale solar power facilities in Colorado and New Mexico, 2011
The data series consists of polygonal boundaries for utility-scale solar power facilities (both photovoltaic and concentrating solar power) located within Colorado and New Mexico as of December 2011. Attributes captured for each facility include the following: facility name, size/production capacity (in MW), type of solar technology employed, location, state, operational status, year the facility came online, and source identification information.
Facility locations and perimeters were derived from 1-meter true-color aerial photographs (2011) produced by the National Agriculture Imagery Program (NAIP); the photographs have a positional accuracy of about ±5 meters (accessed from the NAIP GIS service: http://gis.apfo.usda.gov/arcgis/services).
Solar facility perimeters represent the full extent of each solar facility site, unless otherwise noted. When visible, linear features such as fences or road lines were used to delineate the full extent of the solar facility. All related equipment including buildings, power substations, and other associated infrastructure were included within the solar facility. If solar infrastructure was indistinguishable from adjacent infrastructure, or if solar panels were installed on existing building tops, only the solar collecting equipment was digitized. The “Polygon” field indicates whether the "equipment footprint" or the full “site outline” was digitized. The spatial accuracy of features that represent site perimeters or an equipment footprint is estimated at +/- 10 meters. Facilities under construction or not fully visible in the NAIP imagery at the time of digitization (December 2011) are represented by an approximate site outline based on the best available information and documenting materials. The spatial accuracy of these facilities cannot be estimated without more up-to-date imagery – users are advised to consult more recent imagery as it becomes available. The “Status” field provides information about the operational status of each facility as of December 2011.
This data series contributes to an Online Interactive Energy Atlas developed by the U.S. Geological Survey. The Energy Atlas synthesizes data on existing and potential energy development in Colorado and New Mexico and includes additional natural resource data layers. This information may be used by decision makers to evaluate and compare the potential benefits and tradeoffs associated with different energy development strategies or scenarios. Interactive maps, downloadable data layers, metadata, and decision support tools are included in the Energy Atlas. The format of the Energy Atlas facilitates the integration of information about energy with key terrestrial and aquatic resources for evaluating resource values and minimizing risks from energy development activities.
Tactical approach for determining impact of energy development on wildlife in Wyoming
Causes and Consequences of Bat Fatalities at Wind Turbines
Bats in the night sky in Texas
Wind...energy for the future
Field of Dreams
Bats and wind turbines...a problematic mix
Wind energy is one of the fastest-growing energy industries in the world, and increasing numbers of bats in both North America and Europe are mysteriously dying at wind turbines. Causes of bat collisions with turbines remain undetermined, although migratory species that roost in trees ("tree bats") are disproportionately affected. This task aims to determine the causes of bat collisions with turbines and assess the potential consequences of turbines on susceptible bat populations. In particular, FORT biologists are building upon their earlier studies of migration in tree bats to help determine (1) the geographic origins of bats affected by turbines, using stable isotope techniques to identify the geographic origins of migratory hoary bats found dead at wind turbine facilities; (2) whether bats are attracted to turbines; (3) if mating and/or feeding behaviors play a role in fatalities; and (4) new ways of detecting and observing bats at heights of wind turbines (50–200m). Results of this work will be applicable toward assessing the health of tree bat populations and developing management strategies to minimize the impacts of turbines on bats.