Chokecherry-Sierra Madre Wind

BLM
The Power Company of Wyoming has proposed to build a 1,000-turbine wind project on 215,000 acres of public, private and state land in southern Wyoming.

Issues to solve

The proposed Chokecherry & Sierra Madre wind projects (Chokecherry) would be located in Carbon County, Wyoming. Issues that need to be addressed through the permitting process include habitat for wildlife, including the greater sage-grouse and golden eagles.

Chokecherry would produce up to 3,000 megawatts of wind power, enough to power nearly a million homes. The proposed project would include 100,615 acres of public land as well as state and private land for a total of 215,000 acres, though the actual footprint of the wind turbine pads and roads would be much smaller, with a predicted total disturbance area of 7,000 acres.

The project developers have worked hard to study potential impacts and make changes to the project to limit them. That said, a project of this size in an area with important wildlife habitat will have serious impacts. The challenge is finding a balance between benefits and impacts.

What we're doing

The Wilderness Society is actively engaged in the permitting process and is advocating for limiting and off-setting impacts on wildlife. We have recommended that certain areas within the proposed project be off-limits to development because of impacts to grouse, eagles, raptors, bears and other important wildlife.  We are also recommending that strong efforts be made to “mitigate” or off-set impacts to the project through protection or restoration of other important habitat.

What’s next for the project

Chokecherry received initial approval in 2012, but additional environmental studies are required because of the size of the project. The BLM is now studying the proposed locations for the first 500 turbines, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is studying impacts to eagles and potential ways to “mitigate” or off-set eagle deaths from the project. 

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