Waterfowl in flight. Photo by Joseph Fontaine.

Waterfowl in flight. Photo by Joseph Fontaine.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Land-Based Wind Energy Guidelines

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Guidelines (USFWS) were developed through collaboration with the Wind Turbine Guidelines Federal Advisory Committee whose members provided recommendations about responsible development of wind energy and effective measures to avoid and minimize impacts to wildlife and their habitats.

The final version of The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Land-Based Wind Energy Guidelines was released on March 23, 2012. For a summary of the Guidelines, check out the guidelines fact sheet.

The Guidelines provide a structured, scientific process for addressing wildlife conservation concerns at all stages of land-based wind energy development. Although the Guidelines leave the decisions up to the developer, the USFWS retains the authority to evaluate whether developer efforts to mitigate impacts are sufficient, to determine significance, and to refer for persecution any unlawful take that it believes to be reasonably related to lack of incorporation of Service recommendations or insufficient adherence with the Guidelines.

The Guidelines use a "tiered approach" for assessing potential adverse effects to species of concern and their habitats. The first three tiers are for the pre-construction stage; the last two are for post-construction. The tiered approach provides the opportunity for evaluation and decision-making at each stage, enabling a developer to abandon or proceed with project development, or to collect additional information if required.

The five tiers are summarized as:

  • Tier 1 - Preliminary site evaluation (landscape-scale screening of possible project sites)
  • Tier 2 - Site characterization (broad characterization of one or more potential project sites)
  • Tier 3 - Field studies to document site wildlife and habitat and predict project impacts
  • Tier 4 - Post-construction studies to estimate impacts
  • Tier 5 - Other post-construction studies and research

The most important thing a developer can do is to consult with the USFWS as early as possible in the development of a wind energy project. The USFWS is committed to providing timely responses. Service Field Offices should typically respond to requests by a wind energy developer for information and consultation on proposed site locations (Tiers 1 and 2), pre- and post-construction study designs (Tiers 3 and 4) and proposed mitigation (Tier 3) within 60 calendar days.

Table 1 of the Guidelines, Suggested Communications Protocol (below), is divided into the roles of the wind energy project developer or operator and the USFWS for each of the Tiers.

USFWS Suggested Communications Protocol

Adherence to the Guidelines is voluntary and does not relieve any individual, company, agency of the responsibility to comply with laws and regulations.


The information on this website was taken from the Guidelines.


More information:

http://www.fws.gov/windenergy/- U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Wind Energy Development Information.

http://www.fws.gov/nebraskaes/Wind%20Power%20Development%20in%20Nebraska.html- U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Wind Power Development in Nebraska.