Building tools to minimize ecological impacts in the Southern Sierra and Tehachapi Mountains
The Conservation Biology Institute, through a grant from the David and Lucille Packard Foundation, is working with BLM, CDFG, and USFWS to develop a science-based regional planning framework for the high wind resource region of the eastern Tehachapi Mountains and southeastern Sierra. The project is intended to facilitate decision-making on a regional basis, per the recent federal guidance policies, through spatially-explicit and transparent decision-support tools for wind energy development and conservation.
We assembled available spatial datasets related to biodiversity and landscape intactness, developed logic and associated thresholds, and ranked sections of land (640 acres/1 Sq. mile), according to ecological value, biological potential, and level of disturbance. CBI has created web-based tools for visualizing the results, which are transparent, flexible, and supportive of agency needs. The results are being used to map priority areas for conservation and where renewable energy projects and associated infrastructure may be compatible with conservation goals.
Implemented for the Southern Sierra/Western Mojave, the approach and decision-support tool have widespread applicability, including:
- Informing conservation goals
- Setting priorities for regional reserve design and off-set mitigation
- Informing resource management needs
- Identifying priority information gaps
- Prioritizing conservation of unprotected lands
- Providing a process for transparent risk assessments by developers and permit agencies
- Identifying potential conflicts with development
The title of this project was formerly “Wind, Wings & Wilderness”