Photo: Clint King, SWCA
June 20, 2014 – Power Company of Wyoming LLC’s ongoing studies of greater sage-grouse were featured in three scientific papers selected for presentation at the 29th Sage & Columbian Sharp-tailed Grouse Workshop, held June 16-19 in Elko, Nev.
Hosted by the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, the every-other-year workshop is the most pre-eminent scientific venue for experts to present research and share knowledge specific to these Western birds.
Approximately 45 papers and presentations by federal and state wildlife agencies, university researchers, consultants and industry were shared on subjects including habitat selection, ecology, infrastructure, behavior, fire/invasive species/climate effects, population estimation and conservation planning.
The three PCW-related papers were developed in collaboration with experts from SWCA Environmental Consultants, the University of Missouri, Wyoming Game and Fish Department, U.S. Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station, and Power Company of Wyoming LLC.
- Overview of greater sage-grouse monitoring efforts, Chokecherry and Sierra Madre Wind Energy Project, Carbon County, Wyoming – Authors: Jon Kehmeier, N. Wojcik, J. Millspaugh, C. Hansen, M. Rumble, S. Gamo, and G. Miller.
- Greater sage-grouse winter habitat use and site fidelity in south-central Wyoming – Authors: Nathan Wojcik, A. Widmer, J. Kehmeier, J. Millspaugh, C. Hansen, M. Rumble, S. Gamo, and G. Miller.
- Patterns of inter-annual and intra-annual nest site selection and fidelity by greater sage-grouse in south-central Wyoming – Authors: Ann Widmer, N. Wojcik, D. Faulkner, J. Kehmeier, J. Millspaugh, C. Hansen, M. Rumble, S. Gamo, and G. Miller.
Since 2010, PCW has been monitoring greater sage-grouse by attaching lightweight, high-tech GPS tags that regularly transmit the bird’s location data to scientists at SWCA Environmental Consultants, working for PCW. The study area covers approximately 750,000 acres of south-central Wyoming, including on and around the ranch where PCW is planning the 1,000-turbine Chokecherry and Sierra Madre Wind Energy Project.
The rich dataset gathered over the years is analyzed and used to inform the siting of all wind turbines, to focus conservation measures on the most important habitat for sage-grouse, and to pinpoint areas where additional conservation measures would be most beneficial, while also contributing to the body of scientific knowledge about the greater-sage grouse. Already, PCW has implemented sage-grouse conservation measures across its wind project site, such as marking fences, removing fences and working to improve the mosaic of vegetation that sage-grouse need to survive. In addition, all wind turbines are sited outside of Wyoming’s designated sage-grouse core areas.
“The constant flow of data delivered by our industry-leading GPS tag technology brings new insights into sage-grouse behaviors and habitat use that previous technology just couldn’t capture,” said Garry Miller, PCW vice president of land and environmental affairs. “It’s an honor for us and our research partners to have our work spotlighted at such a prestigious conference, and we hope to continue sharing our scientific findings as our studies progress.”
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