Smart Siting: The First Step in Minimizing Impacts of Wind Energy for Wildlife
By Holly Copeland
September 6, 2018
Join us for our September Draper Natural History Museum Lunchtime Expedition lecture. Holly Copeland of the Nature Conservancy presents Smart Siting: The First Step in Minimizing Impacts of Wind Energy for Wildlife. The talks in this series are free, and take place in the Buffalo Bill Center of the West’s Coe Auditorium.
Across the West, 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. Wyoming, for example, has 1,500 megawatts (MW) of installed wind capacity, but 8,000 MW of additional projects are planned. Wind energy creates a big footprint, raising ecological concerns for many species. 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. Focusing on Wyoming, but with an eye to the western United States, Copeland’s talk reviews the current and expected status of wind projects and the leading science on impacts to wildlife species such as eagles, bats, and songbirds. She concludes with discussion of a tool that the Nature Conservancy and partners have developed to provide siting guidance and support for decision-makers and companies wishing to lessen the impacts of wind energy on wildlife.
About our speaker
Copeland is the Director of Science for The Nature Conservancy in Wyoming. Her research focuses on a range of western conservation issues such as identifying and prioritizing conservation for long distance migration routes of big game, forecasting impacts of energy development on wildlife, and evaluating wetland and streamside health. Her recent and current projects include developing methods to model mule deer migration corridors and understand the overlap with sage-grouse populations, research on mule deer vehicle collision reduction in Wyoming, modeling the benefits of policy and conservation easements to greater sage-grouse populations, conducting wetland condition assessments and priorities for wetlands restoration and conservation, and estimating the vulnerability of Wyoming species and ecosystems to climate change.
Copeland has published more than twenty scientific papers and maintains active research in Wyoming and the West. She holds degrees in geography from the University of Wyoming and the University of California-Davis, and is past president of the Wyoming Chapter of the Wildlife Society.
Draper Natural History Museum Lunchtime Expeditions are supported in part by Sage Creek Ranch and the Nancy-Carroll Draper Foundation.
Join us the first Thursday of each month February through December for a Lunchtime Expedition! These free lectures explore a variety of natural history subjects and issues. Lectures take place in our Coe Auditorium at 12:15 p.m. and are free and open to the public.
Upcoming Lunchtime Expeditions
- October 4: Zach Wallace with Golden Eagle Conservation in the Wyoming Basin Ecoregion
- November 1: Bonnie Lawrence-Smith with Cry to Heaven: Golden Eagles and Thunderbirds in the Bighorn Basin
- December 6: Bryan Bedrosian with Beyond Borders, Bird Migrations To, From, and Through the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem