Maximizing Ecological Uplift with Multi-Project Mitigation
Presentation Description: While wind is often cited as a cause of mortality for bats, wind developers are also making significant investments in conservation through the development of HCPs and the associated mitigation. To maximize the ecological benefit to the species, it is ideal to site mitigation in locations contiguous to other protected lands or existing natural areas. Co-locating mitigation for multiple wind projects is one specific strategy that can amplify the ecological uplift associated with a single project. RES has worked with two field offices of the USFWS, environmental consultants, and multiple energy companies to do exactly this in Vermillion County, Indiana and Vermillion County, Illinois. By aligning the mitigation needs for multiple projects in a single riparian ecosystem, even across state lines, RES has been able to protect over a thousand total acres in the Middle Vermillion River corridor and valuable maternity colonies for Indiana bat and Northern long-eared bat. Collaboration between multiple stakeholders and strategic data sharing can enable the best possible outcomes for both species and wind project development. There were challenges to this approach, especially coordinating the timing and locations of different projects and different agencies, but considering mitigation from a landscape approach is critical to truly achieving a “net benefit” for conservation, and offers an ecologically optimal solution when a bat bank has not yet been established.