Wind Energy Siting: Audubon’s new President captured Audubon’s proactive approach to wind energy when he said, “The key for NGOs like Audubon is to rely on science and nature to figure out how to say “Yes” to clean energy. If we build wind systems in the right way, we launch America on a transformational path.” At both the regional and national levels, Audubon Dakota works for a ‘clean energy’ future that also protects native habitat using the power of diverse partnerships. Through the Northern Plains Wind Energy Forum in the Dakotas, and with the American Wind Wildlife Institute and the Federal Advisory Committee (for national wind energy siting guidelines) at the national level, Audubon Dakota has convened and partnered with our colleagues in wind energy development, power transmission, and wildlife to identify and “step down” wind siting criteria that also safeguard our unique bird habitat.
Important Bird Areas (IBA) designation in the Dakotas has taken a significant step forward with the availability of georeferenced spatial data on the priority habitats for 9 species of grassland birds, including Baird Sparrows, Bobolinks, Chestnut-collared Longspurs, Sprague’s Pipits and others. In 2012 we will ground truth this spatial modeling data in partnership with the US Fish & Wildlife Service, as we work to finalize the identification of globally important IBAs, in partnership with Birdlife International. The designation of IBAs will help guide energy siting and grassland protection strategies, in current and potential partnership with ranchers, wind and other energy developers and our conservation colleagues.