Whiskey Ridge Power Partners, LLC is evaluating the feasibility of expanding wind power development in Kittitas County, Washington (Figure 1). The Whiskey Ridge Project will be adjacent to the existing Wild Horse Wind Power Project and is proposed to include approximately 22 turbines with capacity to produce approximately 44 megawatts (MW). To predict project impacts on wildlife, Whiskey Ridge Power Partners, LLC contracted Western Ecosystems Technology, Inc. (WEST) to conduct a wildlife and habitat baseline study. Study protocols were developed based upon WEST's experience with wildlife/wind turbine interactions at projects throughout the U.S. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) reviewed these protocols in February 2006 and slight modifications were made in early March 2006. The following document contains results of the 2006 baseline study, and an assessment of anticipated impacts to wildlife.
Overview of the Baseline Studies
The principal objectives of the baseline study for this proposed wind project are to: (1) document raptor nest density and location; (2) describe occurrence of any federal and state threatened, endangered, proposed, candidate, or sensitive-status fauna or flora and their potential habitat that may be affected by the project; (3) describe habitat types/ecotones in the general project area; (4) estimate any potential impacts to habitat and wildlife that could result from the construction and operation of the proposed wind energy project, and (5) identify potential project design and/or mitigation measures that could reduce negative impacts.
The Whiskey Ridge study consisted of the following research components: 1) raptor nest surveys, 2) Federal and State sensitive wildlife and wildlife habitat surveys, 3) rare plant surveys, 4) vegetation and habitat mapping, 5) sage grouse surveys, 6) bat echolocation surveys, and 7) general wildlife observations. Avian use surveys were not conducted for the Whiskey Ridge Project because these surveys were conducted at the Wild Horse Project (Erickson et al 2003; see Figure 2) which is immediately adjacent to the proposed Whiskey Ridge Project and no differences are expected for impact predictions.