The Power Company of Wyoming LLC (PCW) has started an intensive avian-monitoring program at its proposed wind project site. The avian radar system was installed on the Overland Trail Cattle Co. ranch, and the system's primary purpose is to collect data and insight into habitat uses and migration patterns of golden eagles. It also will be used to monitor and learn about other large raptors, such as bald eagles and hawks, as well as other avian and bat species.
The information collected will be used to help create a science-based Eagle Conservation Plan, an Avian Protection Plan and a Bat Protection Plan for PCW's proposed Chokecherry and Sierra Madre wind project, which could provide approximately 2,500 MW of energy. The monitoring program also will identify any areas of high eagle usage, which may then be considered when siting turbines and designing the Eagle Conservation Plan.
Featuring technology originally developed by Florida-based DeTect Inc. for military applications, the MERLIN Avian Radar System is expected to operate 24 hours a day over the next 12 to 18 months on the Overland Trail Ranch. It was installed in compliance with protocols of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), according to PCW.
PCW's avian-monitoring program complements its greater sage-grouse monitoring program, launched in April 2010. Fifty female greater sage-grouse have been tagged with lightweight GPS devices to gather scientific data and insight into seasonal habitat uses by the species.Â
PCW's proposed wind energy project spans a combination of private land and federal land managed the BLM, which is preparing an environmental impact statement (EIS) for the project, pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act. PCW filed an application for rights-of-way with the BLM in January 2008, and the draft EIS is anticipated to be published this year.