Whooping Crane Desktop Assessment

Whooping Crane Desktop Stopover Risk Assessment

The Avian Assessment Guidance for Wind Energy Facilities recommends conducting a Whooping Crane Desktop Stopover Risk Assessment as one of the first steps to assess an area for potential impacts to wildlife from wind energy.

This assessment should use information about:

1) Whooping Crane Migration Ecology: A review of confirmed Whooping Crane records should be conducted to determine whether any Whooping Crane stopovers have been documented, a) within the proposed project boundary, and b) outside, but within 80 kilometers (50 miles), of the proposed project boundary. Updated versions of this database and associated guidance document on how to use the data are available from the Commission. Reviewing the database guidance document is mandatory when using the Whooping Crane database. Contact: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
2) Location of the proposed project site relative to the whooping crane migration corridor (shown on map).
3) GIS analysis of wetland and habitat resources located within and adjacent to the proposed project site: An inventory of all wetlands and wetland soils using the two data sets (National Wetlands Inventory (NWI) and Soil Survey Geographic (SSURGO)) should be completed for the area within the proposed project boundary, and the area within five miles of the proposed project boundary.

whooping crane migration corridor

Whooping Crane migration corridor through central Nebraska. Corridor based on 95% of all compiled records (Map developed from data from Tacha et al. 2009).

Maps and Tables to Include in the Assessment:

a. All NWI wetlands within the proposed project boundary and the associated information or fields: Wetland, System (palustrine, lacustrine, or riverine), Subsystem, Class, Water Regime, Special Modifiers, and Size.
b. All NWI wetlands within five (5) miles of the project boundary and the associated information or fields: Wetland, System (palustrine, lacustrine, or riverine), Subsystem, Class, Water Regime, Special Modifiers, and Size.
c. All SSURGO hydric (wetland) soil map units (e.g., Scott, Fillmore, etc.) within the proposed project boundary.
d. All SSURGO hydric (wetland) soil map units (e.g., Scott, Fillmore, etc.) within five (5) miles of the project boundary.

Below is information on how to access both data sets and create the necessary maps and tables with mapping tools freely available online.

National Wetlands Inventory (NWI)

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has an interactive Wetlands Mapper (http://www.fws.gov/wetlands/Data/Mapper.html) that can be used to identify wetlands within your project area and five mile buffer.

To acquire wetland data for your project area:

  1. Open this website: http://www.fws.gov/wetlands/Data/Mapper.html
  2. Read the instructions and disclaimers in steps one and two.
  3. Click on the Click Here to Open the Wetlands Mapper (blue button).
  4. Read the terms and click on the red button if you accept them (to use the mapper you must accept).
  5. Enter the town near your project in the box in the upper right corner.
  6. Find your project area.
  7. Click on the Print button in the upper right and follow the instructions.  Name the map your project name and indicate it is the project area in the User Remarks.  The program will print a map in pdf.
  8. Number the wetlands on your printed map.
  9. In the Wetland Mapper, you will have to select each wetland to get its identification information. Click on the wetland and a small box will open.
  10. Decode the Classification Code.
    1. Click on the decode link.
    2. If this link does not work, go to: http://www.fws.gov/wetlands/Data/Wetland-Codes.html and open the Wetland Code Interpreter (pop-up window).  Enter the Classification Code and the state (optional). Click DECODE. 
  11. Record data for each wetland.  You can use this spreadsheet that contains dropdown options or make your own.  Information you need:
    1. Number from your printed map
    2. Wetland
    3. System
    4. Subsystem – may not be present for all wetland types
    5. Class
    6. Modifiers – may not be present for all wetland types
    7. Water Regime
    8. Size – this information is available in the small box on the mapper
    9. Location (within project area or buffer)
  12. Find the five mile buffer around your project area
    1. There is a scale bar in the bottom left corner.
    2. Use the scale bar as a guide.
  13. Once your project area and five mile buffer fill most of the screen, Print Map.  Name the map your project name and indicate it is the Five Mile Buffer and Project Area in the User Remarks.  The program will print a map in pdf.
  14. Follow the instructions for numbers 8-11 above for the area within your buffer.  You will need to reference your project area map to determine which wetlands you have already identified. 
  15. For the assessment, you will need the spreadsheet with the wetland information and the two maps.

Soil Survey Geographic (SSURGO)

The U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service Web Soil Survey (http://websoilsurvey.sc.egov.usda.gov/App/HomePage.htm) provides soil data and information produced by the National Cooperative Soil Survey.

To acquire soil survey data for your project area:

  1. Open this website: http://websoilsurvey.sc.egov.usda.gov/App/HomePage.htm
  2. Click on the green Start WSS button.
  3. Identify your project boundary or Area of Interest (AOI) in the Interactive Map by clicking on either AOI icon in the upper right corner of the map.
  4. Go to the Shopping Cart tab:
    • On the left side of the page, you can add a subtitle, such as your project name.
    • Click on the Check Out button in the upper right corner.
    • You may need to adjust your pop-up blocker.
    • You can download now (opens in new window) or later (enter email address).
    • A detailed report (pdf) including the map and soil types and descriptions will be produced.  WARNING – if your area is too big, you will not be able to see the map soil unit labels.  Making multiple small maps of the area may be better.  
  5. Go back to the Area of Interest (AOI) tab:
    • Your previous AOI or project area will still be highlighted.
    • You may need to zoom out.
    • Use the ruler to measure 5 miles out from your project boundary.
    • Draw a new AOI with a buffer of at least 5 miles on your project boundary.
    • Follow Step 4 above.
  6. Steps 6-8 should be done for the project area report and the buffer report.
  7. Determine if the soil units in your project area are hydric:
    • Open this spreadsheet.
    • Go to the Map Unit Legend page of your SSURGO report.
    • Enter each Map Unit Symbol from the report into the corresponding column in the SSURGO tab of the spreadsheet.
    • If the map unit is found in the spreadsheet, it is a hydric soil.  If it is not found, it is not a hydric soil.
    • If it is a hydric soil, enter the Map Unit Name from the report into the spreadsheet by clicking on the cell in the Map Unit Name column.  Select the Name that matches.
    • Enter the Location (project area or buffer). NOTE: The five mile buffer for this analysis will include the project area information as well.
    • Enter the number of Acres in AOI and Percent of AOI for each hydric soil as well. (This will give you a good idea of how much of your project area contains hydric soils.)
  8. Highlight or circle the hydric soil locations on the report map.
  9. For the assessment, you will need the spreadsheet with the soil information and the two maps.  Also, submit a copy of the reports.

     

    * Hydric soil data was downloaded on December 22, 2015 from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/soils/use/hydric/) and modified to only include hydric soils found in Nebraska.

     

Submitting the Assessment and Next Steps

The complete assessment should contain:
  1. Information about your project including:
    1. Project Name
    2. County(ies)
    3. Nearest city
    4. Number of wind turbines or solar panels and kilowatts or megawatts
    5. Number of acres in project footprint
  2. A table listing and a map(s) showing all Whooping Crane records within the proposed project boundary and within ten miles of the boundary.
  3. All NWI wetlands within the proposed project boundary and the associated information or fields: Wetland, System (palustrine, lacustrine, or riverine), Subsystem, Class, Water Regime, Special Modifiers, and Size (use the NWI tab in the Excel spreadsheet).
  4. All NWI wetlands within five (5) miles of the project boundary and the associated information or fields: Wetland, System (palustrine, lacustrine, or riverine), Subsystem, Class, Water Regime, Special Modifiers, and Size (use the NWI tab in the Excel spreadsheet).
  5. All SSURGO hydric (wetland) soil map units (e.g., Scott, Fillmore, etc.) within the proposed project boundary (use the SSURGO tab in the Excel spreadsheet).
  6. All SSURGO hydric (wetland) soil map units (e.g., Scott, Fillmore, etc.) within five (5) miles of the project boundary (use the SSURGO tab in the Excel spreadsheet).

 

Submit the report and request a meeting to discuss the next steps:

Eliza Hines and Matt Rabbe                                                             Michelle Koch and Joel Jorgensen

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service                                                              Nebraska Game and Parks Commission

9325 South Alda Road                                                                      2200 N. 33rd Street

Wood River, NE 68883                                                                     Lincoln, NE 68503

Phone: (308) 382-6468                                                                     Phone: (402) 471-0641

Fax: (308) 384-8835

eliza_hines@fws.gov                                                                    michelle.koch@nebraska.gov

matt_rabbe@fws.gov                                                                  joel.jorgensen@nebraska.gov