A four year study of the effects of wind power on the prairie chicken is about to be launched by the National Wind Coordinating Committee (NWCC). The prairie chicken, known to be sensitive to habitat disturbances, is seen as a representative species that can signal the overall grasslands ecosystem across much of the Great Plains. The study, to be led by a pair of Kansas State University researchers, will attempt to understand how wind development might affect the reproduction potential of the birds, along with strategies that could mitigate any such impacts. The work will be conducted in Kansas on land where wind projects are proposed as well as on control sites where no wind development is planned. The NWCC's Wildlife Workgroup, made up of representatives from state and federal agencies, private industry academic institutions and non-governmental organisations, is spearheading the project. FPL Energy, Horizon Wind Energy and PPM Energy are contributing in conjunction with a variety of non-profit agencies. "Very seldom do you see developers, wildlife ecologists, federal agencies, state entities and preservationists working together to examine a perceived problem," says Robert Robel, an expert on prairie chicken populations. "No matter what the outcome of the research effort, society will benefit from the scientific approach to the questions being addressed."
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Senior Renewable Energy Analyst (WindGEMINI Product Lead) DNV GL Bristol (City Centre), City of Bristol