Federal Guidelines a Step Forward for Bird-Friendly Wind Development

“These first-ever federal guidelines are a game-changer and big win for both wildlife and clean energy,” said David Yarnold, President & CEO of Audubon. “By collaborating with conservationists instead of slugging it out, the wind power industry gains vital support to expand and create jobs, and wildlife gets the protection crucial for survival.” 

“I’m proud of the pivotal role Audubon played in developing this strong, consensus-based approach.  These guidelines are based on the best available science and provide a roadmap to better bird protections across each of America’s four great flyways.”

“These guidelines set a new industry standard for bird protection,” said Mike Daulton, Audubon’s VP of Government Relations who served on the advisory committee devising the new guidelines. “The guidelines steer wind turbines away from vital habitat, including Audubon’s Important Bird Areas, and toward land already marked by development.  They give the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service a place at the table for siting decisions; they help protect sites with high potential risk for birds; and they minimize habitat fragmentation.  It’s a real-world, collaborative approach, with real-world benefits for birds and their habitats across the country.”

“We worked collaboratively for three years to hammer out science-based, practical guidelines. Now it is time to implement these guidelines in the same collaborative spirit, and with the same nose for practical, science-based solutions to wildlife conflicts.  We are very optimistic that this is a path toward better protection for birds and their habitats.” 

Background:  The guidelines were developed with the assistance of a 22-member Wind Turbine Guidelines Advisory Committee which included experts from The National Audubon Society, The Nature Conservancy, Defenders of Wildlife, Massachusetts Audubon and Bat Conservation International.   The committee, created under the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) in 2009, worked with the US Fish and Wildlife Service to recommend guidelines to avoid or minimize impacts to birds and their habitats by land-based wind energy facilities. 

Audubon was instrumental in making sure the guidelines address habitat fragmentation, one of the biggest potential impacts of wind development on birds. As a result, wind developers who cooperate with the guidelines will be expected to avoid approaches that cut up and divide important habitats like forests and grasslands and make them less suitable for wildlife.

See Audubon’s policy on Wind Energy at www.audubon.org/conservation/audubons-position-wind-power

To download a copy of the final Guidelines and for other background information on the Service’s role in wind energy development, please visit http://www.fws.gov/windenergy/