The U.S. Energy Policy Act of 2005 required all state and federal agencies to grant utilities access permits to promote reliable, renewable energy production and transmission. Contemporary transmission relies largely on above-ground electric transmission structures and lines. The construction, operation, and maintenance of tall structures, such as power lines, communication towers, wind turbines, and other installations and their associated activities in sage-grouse (Centrocercus spp.) habitats were identified as a conservation threat by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in its decision to designate greater sage-grouse (C. urophasianus; hereafter, sage-grouse) as a candidate species for protection under the Endangered Species Act of 1973. The Greater Sage-grouse Range-wide Comprehensive Strategy identified a need to synthesize the research on the effects of tall structures on sage-grouse as the first step in a process to develop best management practices (BMPs) to minimize potential negative impacts on the species. The Utah Wildlife-in-Need Foundation (UWIN) facilitated a public input process in 2010 to assess stakeholder contemporary knowledge regarding the effects of tall structures on sage-grouse. Stakeholders reviewed published information to evaluate the scientific basis for the potential impacts of tall structures on sage-grouse. At the time of the UWIN review, stakeholders concluded that there were no peer-reviewed, experimental studies reported in the scientific literature that specifically documented increased avoidance or predation on sage-grouse because of the construction, operation, and maintenance of tall structures. Consequently, stakeholders were concerned that the science upon which tall structure siting decisions are based was lacking, and as a result, temporal and spatial setbacks and buffers stipulations may differ by governmental agency. Stakeholders recommended that research implemented to address their concerns include experimental designs that simultaneously address multiple knowledge gaps, include metrics assessing potential individual and cumulative impacts of each tall structure type, and a collaborative process that allows preliminary results to be implemented in an adaptive management approach to actively refine BMPs. Lastly, stakeholders recommended that industry be provided mitigation incentives as part of a comprehensive strategy to fund desired research. A review of the scientific literature regarding sage-grouse since completion of the 2010 review produced no new published information, but recent unpublished reports have begun to address the issue.
Messmer, Terry A.; Hasenyager, Robert; Burruss, James; and Liguori, Sherry
"Stakeholder contemporary knowledge needs regarding the potential effects of tall structures on sage-grouse,"
Human–Wildlife Interactions: Vol. 7
, Article 7.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.usu.edu/hwi/vol7/iss2/7