U.S. Geological Survey, Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center


As with many land uses, trade-offs exist between costs and benefits. New wind
developments are occurring rapidly in parts of the United States, often leaving little
time for evaluation of potential site-specific effects. These developments are known
to affect wildlife, directly from fatality due to collision with the infrastructure and
indirectly from loss of habitat and migration routes. The Department of the Interior,
in particular, is challenged to balance energy development on public lands and also
to conserve fish and wildlife. The Secretary of the Interior has proposed a number of
initiatives to encourage responsible development of renewable energy. These initiatives
are especially important in the western United States where large amounts of land are
being developed or evaluated for wind farms.
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center
(FRESC) is assisting public agencies and private industries by providing science and
technical support for use in decision making.

Read full PDF Document here.


Modification and Loss
The footprint of a wind facility, where the turbines are installed,
ranges from a few acres to dozens of square miles. Most
of these facilities tie into existing electricity transmission
infrastructure and require service roads and power lines. This
infrastructure can have direct and indirect effects on habitat,
such as loss or modification of foraging habitat and increased
isolation between habitat patches. Habitat changes, in turn,
influence the health of wildlife populations. Examples of these
possible influences include reduced nesting and breeding
densities, loss of population vigor and overall population
densities, and behavioral changes. Various other factors can lead
to indirect effects, including introduction of invasive plants,
increased predator populations or facilitated predation, and
alterations in the natural fire frequency. There can be time lags
between the cause and the effect. Information about distribution,
abundance, habitat requirements, and migratory patterns is
needed for any species of interest. A surprisingly small amount
of well-documented information about these characteristics is
currently available for many species.

Many other species besides birds and bats may also be affected
by wind-energy development. They include mammals;
invertebrates, such as butterflies; plants; and a wide variety
of other species. Ecosystem coverage includes arid lands,
grasslands, mountain tops and passes, coastlines, and oceans.

Read full PDF Document here.

More USGS environmental impacts of wind power publications: here