Best Management Practices for Solar and Wind Energy Development - A Conservationist’s Guide
By: Allison Jones, Wild Utah Project, Salt Lake City, UT, Emanuel Vasquez, Wild Utah Project, Salt Lake City, UT, Amy O'Connor, Wild Utah Project, Salt Lake City, UT
Best Management Practices provide science-based criteria and standards that land managers and conservation planners follow in making and implementing decisions about human uses and projects that affect our natural resources. BMPs are usually developed based on legal obligations, pragmatic experience, and institutional practices, and should be supported by the best available scientific knowledge. Up to now, conservation advocates lacked a comprehensive set of science-based Best Management Practices they could systematically bring to land managers, renewable energy developers and the public process that are designed to minimize the adverse impacts of wind and solar energy development projects on wildlife and wildlife habitat. This document draws from over one hundred other scientific studies, renewable energy development guidance documents and other published BMPs in order to bring the best conservation science to the process of wisely choosing wind and solar energy sites, as well as permitting, construction and operation of renewable facilities destined for wild places. These BMPs are organized according to the needs of sage grouse, raptors, other birds, bats, general wildlife (not covered by the first 5 categories), and soil/vegetation/site hydrology. Within each of these categories the BMPs are broken down into siting BMPs, pre-construction/planning BMPs, construction BMPs, and monitoring BMPs. These BMPs also offer guidance on how to address renewable energy development within the context of public land-use planning. This document should offer sound guidance for all stages of wind and solar energy development in the West, and offer pathways for development that are “smart from the start” for wildlife and their habitat.