National Wind Coordinating Collaborative Sage-Grouse Research

The National Wind Coordinating Collaborative’s (NWCC) Sage-grouse Research Collaborative (Collaborative) released a request for proposals earlier this month to examine the impacts of wind power development on greater sage-grouse across the species’ range. The result of the research will be peer-reviewed reports that can inform decision makers regarding future wind farm development and sage-grouse management strategies in the western United States.

“The Collaborative will provide important impetus, study protocol guidelines, and funding for much-needed research on the impact of wind energy development on sage-grouse,” said Sophie Osborn, Wildlife Biologist for the Wyoming Outdoor Council and one of the Collaborative’s Oversight Committee conservation representatives. “We need scientifically-defensible, peer-reviewed research to ensure that wind energy is developed right and does not harm our cherished wildlife.”

This request for proposals is part of a broader effort by the Collaborative to support research that analyzes the effects of wind turbines development on seasonal distribution, habitat use, and demographic variables of sage-grouse. The current lack of information regarding wind power impacts on the species, combined with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s March 2010 designation of the sage-grouse as a Candidate Species under the Endangered Species Act, has affected new wind power development activity in many western states where wind resource and sage-grouse habitat overlap.

"The wind energy industry is very eager to initiate research on sage-grouse and the impacts our projects may have,” states Collaborative Oversight Committee member Nicole Hughes of Element Power. “The collaborative is the venue which will allow us to support research that is conducted in the most open, transparent, and credible scientific manner."

Research teams may contribute to this comprehensive research effort by partnering with wind developers and submitting a proposal to conduct studies requesting no, partial, or full funding from the Sage-Grouse Research Collaborative. Proposals are due September 2, 2010. The full request for proposals can be found at

The Sage-grouse Research Collaborative is comprised of a diverse range of leaders from federal and state agencies, conservation groups, academia, and the wind industry, and who want to address research gaps regarding the impacts of wind turbines and associated infrastructure on sage-grouse. Its long-term goal is to advance the science necessary to further inform siting and mitigation strategies.

Informed by advice from leading technical experts, the Collaborative’s Oversight Committee raises funds to:

* Support independent research teams
* Summarize study results and coordinate comprehensive analyses of impacts across the sage-grouse’s range
* Ensure completion of peer-reviews for studies
* Conduct outreach to disseminate results

NWCC’s Sage-grouse Research Collaborative Oversight Committee members include Audubon Wyoming, U.S. Bureau of Land Management, California Department of Fish and Game, Colorado State University, Element Power, U.S. Department of Energy, Horizon Wind Energy, Idaho Department of Fish and Game, Invenergy, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Renewable Energy Systems Americas, Ridgeline Energy, The Nature Conservancy, University of Nevada, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Geological Survey, Wyoming Game and Fish Department, and Wyoming Outdoor Council.

The National Wind Coordinating Collaborative (NWCC) provides a neutral forum for a wide range of stakeholders to pursue the shared objective of developing environmentally, economically, and politically sustainable commercial markets for wind power in the United States. Formed in 1994, this partnership of experts and affected parties identifies and addresses issues that affect the use of wind power. By establishing dialogue on current key topics and catalyzing activities that build consensus among its stakeholders, the NWCC has successfully addressed critical challenges in the areas of transmission, wildlife and habitat impacts, siting, power markets, and other aspects of wind farm development.