Energy Northwest is proposing a second wind power development in Benton County, Washington. The first development, called Nine Canyon, is currently being constructed with full commercial operation expected late this summer. The Zintel Canyon Wind Project site is located west of the Nine Canyon Wind Project site. Energy Northwest contracted with Western Ecosystems Technology, Inc. (WEST) and Northwest Wildlife Consultants Inc. (NWC) to conduct a one-year baseline study and to assist with environmental permitting of the Zintel Canyon Project. WEST and NWC also conducted other ecological baseline studies, including the study at the adjacent Nine Canyon Project. They will be conducting the operational monitoring study for the Nine Canyon project and coordinating Technical Advisory Committee tasks during the operational phase.
This report summarizes the results of the ecological baseline studies conducted from April 2001 through early June 2002 and other relevant information for determining the impacts of the proposed project on wildlife, plants and habitat. Many of the baseline results reported for the Nine Canyon Project (Erickson et al. 2001a) are relevant to the Zintel Canyon Project because the two developments are adjacent to one another, consist of similar habitat types and topography, and are expected to be of similar size (e.g., similar electricity output). The ecological baseline study consists of 1) point count and in-transit surveys for wildlife species, 2) two aerial surveys within approximately five miles of the project boundary for visible raptor nests in 2001, 3) burrowing owl surveys within suitable habitat near proposed turbine strings and new roads, 4) vegetation mapping, and 5) rare plant surveys in native shrub-steppe habitat near the proposed gravel quarry site. In addition, relevant data such as the nocturnal migration study collected during the one-year baseline study at the adjacent Nine Canyon Project were reviewed and summarized. Information on sensitive plant and wildlife species within the vicinity of the project was requested from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), and the Washington Natural Heritage Program (WNHP) and is reported in this document. The recent synthesis of baseline and operational monitoring studies at wind developments by Erickson et al. (2002) was also reviewed and utilized for understanding and predicting impacts from the Zintel Canyon Project.