“Across the West,” says Holly Copeland of the Nature Conservancy (TNC), “the number of installed and planned wind energy projects has sharply risen with growing interest in reducing fossil fuels to mitigate climate change and support energy independence.”
In Wyoming, that translates into 1,500 megawatts of wind energy installed to date, with 8,000 megawatts of additional projects planned. For Copeland, Director of Science for TNC’s Wyoming Chapter, the large footprint created by wind energy projects raises ecological concerns for many wildlife species—and opportunities to lessen impacts to wildlife through careful site planning.
Copeland notes, “Research and data on the impacts of wind to wildlife confirm that careful siting is crucial to maintaining healthy wildlife populations, while bringing clean energy to industry and consumers.” At the next Draper Natural History Museum Lunchtime Expedition, Copeland presents Smart Siting: The First Step in Minimizing Impacts of Wind Energy for Wildlife.
The free talk takes place Thursday, September 6, 12:15 p.m. in the Buffalo Bill Center of the West’s Coe Auditorium. Copeland takes a look at the current and expected status of wind projects in the West, as well as the leading science on their impacts to wildlife species including eagles, bats, and songbirds. She concludes by discussing a tool, developed by TNC and its partners, to provide siting guidance and support for decision-makers and companies seeking to lessen the impacts of wind energy on wildlife.
Copeland earned degrees in geography from the University of Wyoming and the University of California-Davis. In her research, she focuses on a broad range of western conservation issues which include—in addition to her work on the impacts of energy development on wildlife—conservation strategies for long-distance migration routes of big game, and the evaluation of wetland and streamside health.
The current past president of the Wyoming Chapter of the Wildlife Society, Copeland has published more than twenty scientific papers related to her ongoing research in Wyoming specifically and the American West in general.
Lunchtime Expedition lectures are organized by the Draper Natural History Museum and supported in part by Sage Creek Ranch and the Nancy-Carroll Draper Foundation. The series continues on October 4, when Zach Wallace discusses golden eagle conservation in the Wyoming Basin Ecoregion.
Contact Bonnie Smith at [email protected] or 307-578-4020 to learn more about the Draper Museum’s natural science programs, or visit centerofthewest.org/explore/greater-yellowstone-natural-history. Explore the Center’s full calendar of events at centerofthewest.org/calendar.
Since 1917, the award-winning Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody, Wyoming, has devoted itself to sharing the story of the authentic American West. The Center is an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution. For more information, visit centerofthewest.org or the Center’s Facebook page. #100YearsMore
Image: Holly Copeland in the field. Courtesy photograph.