The proposed Lava Ridge Wind Project has been sited in an area of Lincoln, Minidoka, and Jerome counties, about 25 miles northeast of Twin Falls. This area is home to many passionate Idahoans who care deeply about their environment, and it’s home to a few sage-grouse who presumably also care about their environment.
The proposed Lava Ridge Wind Project also cares about the people, the sage-grouse, and the environment. That’s why there are more than 60 pages of analyses in the draft EIS about the potential effects of all proposed alternatives to the greater sage-grouse, pygmy rabbit, amphibians such as the Sierran treefrog and the northern Pacific chorus frog, mule deer, pronghorn deer, shrews, squirrels, mice, snakes, skunks, voles, badgers, marmots, coyotes, lizards, and more.
The draft EIS looks at how each alternative would affect the home range, vegetation and habitat, movement of that species, potential behavioral changes, ground disturbance (likely caused by the new roads the project would build), noise, fencing, and of course, the impact of human activity would have on each species. The analysis is extensive, and is presented through maps, tables, and narrative comparisons and statistics.
Anyone can access the draft EIS and look up how each alternative would affect the wildlife they care about most, and use that as a factor in their decision-making.
The good news is, according to the draft EIS, the Lava Ridge Project is outside of important sage-grouse habitat. The areas identified as habitat and the known lek (breeding) locations were essential factors used to help guide project siting and minimization measures. Three-mile buffers from lek locations were implemented throughout the design of turbine locations, roads, and other project components.
Despite this, Magic Valley Energy committed to providing further protection for sage-grouse and mitigating the potential impact on sage-grouse with extra precautions such as:
- buffers from leks
- using only certain types of fencing
- minimizing new roads
- minimizing noise disturbances
- collocating linear features (e.g., power lines and pipelines)
- pausing work in certain seasons so as to not disturb sage-grouse seasonal use areas
There’s no such thing as a building, house, road, or large wind project that doesn’t disturb the habitat it occupies. It’s up to you to look at the different alternatives and decide for yourself what feels like an appropriate amount of habitat alteration for what the wind project would provide.