Assessing the impacts of wind-energy development on sharp-tailed grouse and greater prairie-chickens in North and South Dakota
Since 2003, Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center (NPWRC) has conducted research on the impact of wind-energy development on breeding grassland birds, including Sharp-tailed Grouse and Greater-Prairie Chicken. Wind-energy development in the northern Great Plains primarily occurs along the Missouri Coteau and Missouri River Plateau in North and South Dakota. While these areas rank high in wind-energy potential, they also contain important breeding habitat for Sharp-tailed Grouse and Greater Prairie-Chicken. The Land-Based Wind Energy Guidelines of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service specifically mention prairie grouse as a group of species requiring particular precautions when siting wind facilities. However, the impact of wind-energy development on prairie grouse in the northern Great Plains is largely unknown. NPWRC has monitored spring lek activity and conducted counts of males and females at 4 wind turbine facilities and at adjacent sites where wind facilities have been proposed but to-date have not been constructed. Utilizing NPWRC surveys and existing grouse survey data as reference sites (North Dakota Game and Fish Department, South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Department, U.S. Forest Service’s Fort Pierre National Grasslands), NPWRC is assessing the relative influence of possible impacts of wind-energy development and landscape composition and landcover change on lek activity and counts.
Wesley E Newton
Jill A Shaffer