An electricity transmission company interested in taking wind power from the Oklahoma Panhandle to other states has signed an agreement with state conservation officials to protect the habitat of the lesser prairie chicken during development of its projects.
Plains and Eastern Clean Line Oklahoma LLC and the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation said they would team up to minimize and offset habitat impacts when the company selects sites for wind farm and transmission line development.
The lesser prairie chicken is a candidate for listing as a federal threatened or endangered species. The birds, especially nesting hens, tend to be afraid of tall structures such as windmills or transmission poles, which can serve as perches for predators. There are between 2,000 and 3,000 lesser prairie chickens in Oklahoma, according to recent population estimates.
“This agreement with Clean Line is another example of how we are actively coordinating conservation efforts with industry,” said Richard Hatcher, director of the wildlife conservation department.
“These types of agreements are essential to both the long-term viability of the lesser prairie chicken and continued development of wind energy in areas with prairie chickens.”
Clean Line plans to spend up to $2 billion on a 600-kilovolt, direct-current transmission line from the Oklahoma Panhandle to Tennessee. The project is expected to be complete by 2017.