Thursday, October 15, 2009

Greater Sage-Grouse and Energy Development



A recent article in the online journal PlosONE outlines the projected impacts of oil and gas development in the U.S. Intermountain West. Mapping Oil and Gas Development Potential in the US Intermountain West and Estimating Impacts to Species outlines the projected declines in Greater Sage-Grouse based on modeling the distribution of future oil and gas wells based on the potential for oil and gas resources to be present. The authors project that there would be a 7% to 19% decline from the 2007 levels and impact 3.7 million acres of sagebrush and 1.1 million acres of grasslands and the species that live in those habitats if oil and gas development were to occur at the projected rates.


Figure 2. Oil and gas simulation results for the two scenarios.This map illustrates the location and extent of expected development in the two scenarios. Areas in orange depict growth for the anticipated scenario. Areas in red depict growth for the unrestrained scenario. Bar graphs show the quantity of development projected for each scenario. Core areas for sage-grouse are shown to highlight expected areas of future conflict. (Click on the image to enlarge).


They also provide solutions to avoid these projected impacts by a creative combination of approaches to enhance access in some areas in exchange for avoidance of others, or outright purchase of already leased land in important habitats by the federal government of other interested parties. They also note the species in grassland and sagebrush ecosystems are under stress from a number of stressors including wind, solar, coal, oil shale, and uranium and they suggest that this model could be used for these stressors as well and could account for cummulative impacts from all of them. These proactive measures could be used by regulatory agencies and land managers to avoid "business as usual" and avoid impact to areas crucial for species conservation.

Copeland HE, Doherty KE, Naugle DE, Pocewicz A, Kiesecker JM (2009) Mapping Oil and Gas Development Potential in the US Intermountain West and Estimating Impacts to Species. PLoS ONE 4(10): e7400. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0007400


6 comments:

Anonymous said...

John, this is such a sad scenario ,,ongoing destruction of our natural heritage for our inflated use of energy,,and my husband keeps saying,,"conservation" ,,insulation of houses and roofs painted white,,a little less consumption of gas and oil and electricity (coal) and we don't have to destroy the planet in order to save US! I dread the effect huge industrial wind power will do year after year. let's wake up,,
Maggie

Shawn K. Wayment, DVM said...

John...

I too love these birds more than any. One fear I have is that they needs thousands of miles of habitat...as they migrate great distances...most people don't realize this fact! It sure would be a sad West without them in ti!

Shawn

Bill S. said...

The first bird I grew to love was the sage grouse. I have observed them for many years and this last spring did three presentations on them from a "layman's" point of view. I found that I had questions about habits that the experts could not answer. I loved your article and insight. Last year the Department of Fish and Game made the season longer and set the limit of two per day. I believe the flocks were hammered. Hopefully it will change next year.
Check out my blog for pictures and comments. Thanks.

mdmnm said...

And, somewhere in DC or another power center, someone will opine "it's just a bunch of empty country, anyway, and a few more roads won't hurt" in 3, 2, 1 ....

Never mind the science.

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Cindy said...

Our ongoing quest for fossil fuels is so very distressing with conservation always taking a back seat. Now to catch up on your back posts, it's been far too long since I visited.