Zilkha Renewable Energy (Applicant) proposes to construct and operate 100 to 150 wind turbines in the Kittitas Valley northwest of Ellensburg, Washington. The Kittitas Valley Wind Power Project (the Project) is anticipated to provide up to 173 megawatts (MW) of generating capacity. It would be constructed on privately owned land and public land administered by the Washington Department of Natural Resources (WDNR). The project area is bisected by five Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) and one Puget Sound Energy (PSE) high-voltage transmission lines. A project substation, which would connect the project's output to the regional transmission grid, would be constructed near the center of the project site, adjacent to the BPA or PSE lines. The output of the project would be sold under contract to one or more regional utilities for transmission to regional electricity consumers.
The Applicant has contracted with CH2MHILL, Western Ecosystems Technology, Inc. (WEST), and Northwest Wildlife Consultants, Inc. (NWC) to develop and implement a survey protocol for a baseline study of wildlife, habitat and plants in the project area. The protocol for the ecological baseline study is similar to protocols used at the Vansycle, Klondike, Stateline, Maiden, Condon and Nine Canyon wind projects in Oregon and Washington, the Buffalo Ridge wind project in southwest Minnesota, and the Foote Creek Rim wind project in Wyoming.
This report summarizes the results of the ecological baseline studies conducted from February 2002 through early November 2002. The wildlife portion of the ecological baseline study consists of 1) point count and in-transit surveys for wildlife species, 2) two aerial surveys within approximately two miles of the project boundary for visible raptor nests in the spring of 2002 and 3) nine driving transect surveys along Highway 10, Highway 97, Bettas Road, and Hayward Road to estimate the number of wintering bald eagles in the project vicinity.