RAWLINS, Wyo. (AP) — A wind farm slated for southern Wyoming will use military technology to track birds and bats in hopes of preventing them from being killed by the turbines.
A radar system coming to the wind project just south of Rawlins will help developer Power Co. of Wyoming LLC collect data about the habitat and migration patterns of golden eagles, bald eagles, hawks and other bird species and bats at the proposed 1,000-turbine wind energy project.
The Casper Star-Tribune reports that the information will be used in a management plan for birds and bats on the company's Chokecherry and Sierra Madre Wind Energy Project.
Garry Miller, director of land and environmental affairs for the company, said in a statement that the radar bird study is intended to "avoid, minimize and mitigate potential impacts to wildlife" caused by the wind project.
"Previous radar studies have not been specifically designed to detect and understand eagle use patterns, so this is one of the first applications of the technology," he said.
The monitoring program will identify areas of high eagle usage, which may then be considered when siting turbines and designing the Eagle Conservation Plan, according to the company.
The proposed wind farm would be spread across 154 square miles of the Overland Trail Cattle Co. ranch. Plans call for a 2,500 megawatt, $4 billion to $6 billion wind farm site. PCW is a subsidiary of Denver-based Anschutz Corp., which owns the ranch.
The radar monitoring system joins the wind energy project's sage grouse monitoring program launched last year. Fifty female grouse were tagged with GPS tracking devices, and a male grouse study in the ranch area is being conducted by scientists from the University of Missouri, U.S. Forest Service, Wyoming Game and Fish Department and others.
The Bureau of Land Management is currently preparing an environmental impact statement on the wind power project, since it spans a combination of private and federal land. A draft of the impact statement is expected sometime next year. Once BLM and the company have obtained state and county permission, construction would begin in 2012 or 2013.