In the spring of 2009, the Nebraska Wind and Wildlife Working Group, a consortium of representatives from state and federal agencies, non-governmental conservation organizations, and public utilities, was formed to develop guidance for wind energy development in the state that minimizes impacts to wildlife resources.

The group works closely with wind developers and consultants who have developed or are looking to develop wind energy in Nebraska that minimizes impacts to wildlife populations and natural areas. The group has no rule-making or regulatory authority; rather it works cooperatively to discuss mutual concerns, learn of the latest developments, and coordinate action as warranted.

The group’s initial focus was to develop two decision support tools for wind energy development and wildlife resource management in Nebraska. The Guidelines for Wind Energy and Wildlife Resource Management in Nebraska was a set of non-regulatory statewide recommendations to help developers assess and minimize potential environmental impacts that could result from the development of wind energy facilities. They were developed by the group and reviewed by wind industry professionals, consultants, and other wind energy/wildlife stakeholders.

The second document the group participated in the development of was the Wind Energy and Nebraska’s Wildlife Map. The map depicted the relative sensitivity of Nebraska’s species of concern to wind energy development and has been received by the wind industry as a valuable tool for initial siting of wind energy facilities.

The Nebraska Wind and Wildlife Coordinator position was developed to facilitate communication among wind energy and wildlife stakeholders and to coordinate the Nebraska Wind and Wildlife Working Group. In the summer of 2011, the Coordinator position was transferred to the University of Nebraska – Lincoln to be housed in the Nebraska Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit. The Coordinator, the Nebraska Wind and Wildlife Working Group, the NGPC, the USFWS, and other stakeholders are working together to develop additional decision support tools for wind energy development in Nebraska that minimizes the impacts to wildlife.

Sandhill cranes flying in snow. Photo by Joseph Fontaine.

Sandhill cranes flying in the snow. Photo by Joseph Fontaine.