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WYO Wind Power Possibilities Mapped to Reduce Conflict

November 24, 2008

Laramie, WY – About five million acres are being rated as "just right" for wind energy development in Wyoming, according to a new report from wildlife and conservation groups. "Wind Power in Wyoming: Doing it Smart from the Start," maps out environmentally-sensitive areas for such species as sage grouse, migratory birds, elk and pronghorn. It also identifies areas were wind turbine towers would mar the view in cultural landscapes and viewsheds prized by communities.

Erik Molvar with the Biodiversity Conservation Alliance wrote the report.

"We can have major wind power development--utility-scale wind power development--in Wyoming, and protect our sensitive land and wildlife, also."

Molvar says he took into account transmission lines and initial research that has shown which areas have sufficient regular winds. Most of the land marked as "ideal" or "manageable" in the study is in southeast Wyoming.

Lessons have been learned from the state's oil and gas development history, according to Molvar, who says the "helter-skelter" approval of development without looking at the big picture has marred landscapes and habitats.

"This is an opportunity, from the very onset of wind energy development on a large scale in Wyoming, to manage it in such a way that we can maximize our clean, renewable-energy resources while we minimize the conflicts with wildlife and social values."

Initial criticism of the report comes from property rights groups concerned that if the study were adopted as state policy, it could limit private property rights to develop wind farms.

The Sierra Club is endorsing the report, which can be found at
www.voiceforthewild.org.

Deborah Smith/Deb Courson, Public News Service - WY