[Federal Register: July 10, 2003 (Volume 68, Number 132)]
[Page 41174-41175]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Interim Voluntary Guidelines To Avoid and Minimize Wildlife 
Impacts from Wind Turbines

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service.

ACTION: Notice of availability of interim guidelines and request for 


SUMMARY: The Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) has developed 
voluntary interim guidelines for locating and designing wind energy 
facilities to avoid or minimize the loss of wildlife, particularly 
birds and bats, and their

[[Page 41175]]

habitats. These guidelines are intended to assist Service personnel in 
providing technical assistance to the wind energy industry to avoid or 
minimize impacts to wildlife and their habitats through: (1) Proper 
evaluation of potential wind energy development sites; (2) proper 
location and design of turbines and associated structures within sites 
selected for development; and (3) pre- and post-construction research 
and monitoring to identify and/or assess impacts to wildlife. This 
guidance is intended for terrestrial applications only; guidelines for 
wind energy developments in marine environments and the Great Lakes are 
being studied and will be provided at a future date. While these 
guidelines are voluntary, we encourage their immediate use by the wind 
energy industry. We also encourage and solicit comments on this 
guidance, including suggestions for improvement based on new scientific 
research. The interim guidelines are based on current science and will 
be updated as new information becomes available. They will be evaluated 
over a 2-year period, and then modified as necessary based on their 
performance in the field and on the latest scientific and technical 
discoveries developed in coordination with industry, States, academic 
researchers, and other Federal agencies. Extensive use of the interim 
guidelines by the wind industry will be vital to this evaluation. The 
guidelines may be accessed on the Service's Web site at http://www.fws.gov/r9dhcbfa.
 Comments on the interim guidelines are invited 
during the 2-year interim period.

DATES: Comments on the interim guidelines must be received or 
postmarked by July 7, 2005.

ADDRESSES: Comments should be sent to Dr. Benjamin N. Tuggle, Chief, 
Division of Federal Program Activities, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 
4401 North Fairfax Drive, Arlington, Virginia 22203.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Contact Dr. Benjamin N. Tuggle at 
(703) 358-2161.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: In response to recommendations made in the 
National Energy Policy report, the Department of the Interior has been 
re-evaluating its existing renewable energy programs and industry 
access limitations to Federal lands. These actions are intended to both 
increase the Department's use of renewable energy and to assist 
industry in increasing renewable energy production, in an 
environmentally friendly manner, on Department managed lands. 
Development of wind energy is a significant component of this 
    Wind-generated electrical energy is renewable, produces no 
emissions, and is considered to be generally environmentally friendly 
technology. However, wind energy facilities can adversely impact 
wildlife, especially birds and bats, and their habitats. Commercial 
wind energy facilities have been constructed in 29 States, with 
developments planned for several other states as well as coastal and 
offshore areas. As more facilities with larger turbines are built, the 
cumulative effects of this rapidly growing industry may initiate or 
contribute to the decline of some wildlife populations. The potential 
harm to these populations from an additional source of mortality makes 
careful evaluation of proposed facilities essential. Considerable avian 
mortality occurred at older wind energy facilities; therefore, the 
potential impact of the current rapid expansion of wind energy 
developments on wildlife is of serious concern to the Fish and Wildlife 
Service, the wind energy industry, and the public. Due to local 
differences in wildlife concentration and movement patterns, habitats, 
area topography, facility design, and weather, each proposed 
development site is unique and requires detailed, individual 
    Service personnel may become involved in the review of potential 
wind energy developments on public lands through National Environmental 
Policy Act review (Sections 1501.6, opportunity as a cooperating 
agency, and Section 1503.4, duty to comment on federally-licensed 
activities for agencies with jurisdiction by law, i.e., the Migratory 
Bird Treaty Act and Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act); or because 
of special expertise. The National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement 
Act requires that any activity on Refuge lands be determined to be 
compatible with the Refuge system mission and Refuge purpose(s). In 
addition, the Service is required by the Endangered Species Act to 
assist other Federal agencies in ensuring that any action they 
authorize, implement, or fund will not jeopardize the continued 
existence of any federally endangered or threatened species. Service 
biologists have also received requests from industry for consultation 
on wildlife impacts of proposed wind energy developments on private 
    In January 2002, the Service established a Wind Turbine Siting 
Working Group to develop a set of comprehensive national guidelines for 
locating, designing, and operating wind energy facilities in a manner 
that would avoid or minimize the loss of wildlife and their habitats at 
these facilities. The purpose of this effort is to ensure that wildlife 
resources are protected while streamlining the site selection and 
facility design process, and avoiding unanticipated conflicts after 

(Notice: Interim Voluntary Guidelines to Avoid and Minimize Wildlife 
Impacts from the Wind Turbines)

    Dated: June 23, 2003.
Matt Hogan,
Deputy Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 03-17429 Filed 7-9-03; 8:45 am]