Midwest Landscape Initiative Wind Working Group

The MLI Wind Working Group provides a safe space for natural resource agencies to:

  • identify what impacts to avoid or minimize,
  • identify ways to avoid or minimize impacts,
  • develop acceptable guidelines for siting and operations to avoid or minimize negative impacts to wildlife from wind energy development.

Map showing the upper Midwest and Canada.

The Wind Working Group will seek to align approaches for greater consistency throughout the Midwest region with the purpose of reducing wind energy development impacts to wildlife and their habitats.

MLI WWG Goals

  1. Identify and avoid or minimize the direct and indirect negative impacts of wind power generation on wildlife and the surrounding environment.
  2. Offset remaining unavoidable direct and indirect impacts of wind power generation on wildlife and the surrounding environment.
  3. Ensure those offsets last as long as the project impacts last.
  4. Establish a consistent mitigation or offset approach across the region.

MLI WWG Objectives

  1. Identify what wildlife resources are most critical to avoid and minimize impacts to (e.g., bat hibernacula and maternity colonies, bat and bird migration pathways, high wetland or grassland densities) for the Midwest.
  2. Synthesize and share existing best practices across the region and with other regions.
  3. Identify the literature, studies, and information that are relevant to wildlife and natural resource impacts resulting from wind development in the Midwest and the measures that can offset those impacts.
  4. Generate a synergy of mitigation strategies used by states across the region.
  5. Maintain working relationships with wind companies and permitting entities so that as science and understanding of impacts improve, we can have continued engagement with stakeholders? to lessen or offset impacts to natural resources.

Wind energy development continues to expand across the Midwest region providing both economic and environmental benefits, but also environmental concerns. Negative impacts of wind turbines to migratory and non-migratory birds, bats, other species of concern, and wildlife habitat continue to be documented. Inconsistency across local, state and federal regulatory frameworks, project consultation processes, pre-/post-construction monitoring guidelines, and other efforts may exacerbate unintended consequences for wildlife and priority habitats at site, state, and/or regional scales. Therefore, natural resources agencies have formed a collaboration to lessen the impacts to species and important wildlife areas by developing best practices and guidance related to siting and operations of wind turbines and associated infrastructure.

The Midwest Landscape Initiative (MLI) Wind Working Group (WWG) explores shared conservation priorities among the states of the Midwest Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (MAFWA) and the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). First convened in the fall of 2019, WWG membership is restricted to these state and federal agencies with management responsibility for fish and wildlife to collaborate and share information.

At the start of the WWG, the MLI Steering Committee identified initial goals to enhance coordination and collaboration to avoid, minimize, or offset the direct and indirect negative impacts of wind power generation on wildlife and the surrounding environment. A needs assessment was then conducted among primarily state and federal stakeholders to inform the WWG’s Action Plan.

While the WWG convenes as a government-only group, cooperation and coordination with wind energy and permitting entities remain central to the goals and objectives of the WWG.  The WWG will coordinate with other Midwest agencies and broader wind-wildlife actors to ensure that research initiatives are aligned with the overall landscape objectives and jointly addressed by appropriate agencies. Additional WWG subgroups may be convened including external stakeholders. Wind development and permitting entities will benefit from the outputs of the WWG and through subsequent engagements with the state and federal agencies participating in the WWG.

Membership

Chairs:

  • Federal Chair: Scott Larson, USFWS Interior Regions 5 and 7
  • State Chair: Hilary Morey, South Dakota

Members:

  • Dave Azure, USFWS Interior Region 5
  • Tom Kirschenmann, South Dakota
  • Mona Khalil, USGS
  • Chris Berens, Kansas
  • Zac Eddy, Kansas
  • Erin Hazelton, Ohio

Facilitation & Leadership Team:

  • Kelley Myers, USFWS
  • Brad Potter, USFWS
  • Claire Beck, MAFWA
  • Jason Gershowitz, Kearns & West
  • Rebecca Beauregard, Kearns & West
  • Zach Barr, Kearns & West

Links