Colorado collaboration: Wind companies, conservation groups agree on wildlife best practices

"Colorado's Eastern Plains are a bit safer for prairie chickens — lesser and greater — and a spate of other animals and plants as the result of a unique partnership between conservation groups and the wind industry."

That's Denver Post reporter Mark Jaffe, describing a recent agreement by five environmental groups and 10 wind farm development companies on a series of best practices for wildlife management to guide wind development in Colorado.

The 15 organizations formed the Colorado Renewable & Conservation Collaborative, and have been working for the past three years to come up with the guidelines, aimed at protecting a number of species and fragile ecosystems. The best practices cover items such as avoiding large groupings of playas, shallow wetlands found in the prairies that cover much of eastern Colorado.  Species that will be affected by the agreement include bats, prairie chickens, and mountain plovers, among others.

Craig Cox, executive director of the Interwest Energy Alliance (an AWEA regional partner group), took part in the discussions.  He said the best practices are aimed at trying to identify potential wildlife and ecosystem issues early in the wind project planning process and increase certainty in permitting.

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