This report details the objectives, structure, scope, results, and conclusions of the U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) contract #M08PC20060, titled "New Insights and New Tools Regarding Risk to Roseate Terns, Piping Plovers, and Red Knots from Wind Facility Operations on the Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf." This project was awarded by BOEMRE (then Minerals Management Service) to Normandeau Associates, Inc. (the Pandion Systems, Inc.) on 25 Sep 2008 with an expected period of performance of 3 yrs from the award date. The objectives of this study, as stated in the contract, were as follows:
- To evaluate the potential for the three endangered, threatened, and candidate species of interest (Roseate Tern, Piping Plover, Red Knot) to be impacted by wind facilities located on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS)
- To determine the best methods to evaluate the locations of future wind facilities to minimize risks to the(se) species
Reflective of the twofold objective, Normandeau's approach to this project had two primary thrusts: Risk assessment and methodological innovation. These two ideas are fundamental to this project's nature and structure and comprise one dimension of this project's organization.
The concept of ecological risk assessment (ESEPA 1998) has broad ecological application, including in the area of assessing wildlife risk from wind faclity development. This was a central organizing idea of Normandeau's approach to this project and permeates this report. For example, Section 1 is a synthesis of the "problem formulation" stage of the risk assessment, and Section 2 is preseted as a preliminary risk assessment with conceptual models and analysis of effects, exposure, and risk characterization. The various subsections of Section 3 contain original research designed to advance knowledge frontiers with respect to the significant risk effects and exposure questions that were identified during the problem formulation stage, and Section 4 presents a final risk characterization, synthesizing the contributions of the original research conducted under this project toward generating new insights into the potential risk of adverse ecological impact to the three focal species of this project from offshore wind facility operations on the AOCS.
The methodological innovation component of this project was somewhat separate from the risk assessment component, although it is related in that is stems from the project's second objective and addresses the need for ecological study methodologies that can be applied toward future risk assessments in order to help evaluate locations of future wind facilities on the AOCS based on ecological risk criteria for the focal species. This methodological innovation component of the project was addressed exclusively in one, and partly in another, of this project's three pilot studies (pilot study structure explained below) as follows: the development of a new statistical model for evaluating the risk of flying birds colliding with offshore wind turbines is presented in Section 3.6 with application to Roseate Terns in Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts; the initial development and testing of a self-powered, remote operating acoustic/thermographic bird detector (Acoustic Thermographic Offshore Monitoring [ATOM] system) was supported by another of this project's pilot studies and is presented in Section 3.7.
Another dimension of this project's organization is created by the somewhat complex and multifaceted structure of the two separate contracts and three pilot studies that comprised the project's backbone. These elements are listed below and their relationship to the project's task structure, to each of the five original research and technology development initiatives, two synthesis sections, two midterm meetings, and to the project team and objectives is briefly outlined in the remainder of this section.