Dr. Ed Arnett, conservation scientist with Bat Conservation International in Austin, will speak on “Impacts of Wind Energy Development on Wildlife: What Does the Future Hold for our Hill Country Bats.” The meeting will be held on June 9 at the Gillespie County Agricultural Extension Service Building, 95 Frederick Road in Fredericksburg, beginning at 7:00pm. This presentation is sponsored by the Friends of the Fredericksburg Nature Center as an extension of their Nature Series Programs held during the school year.
Dr. Arnett holds a number of academic degrees in natural resources management, fish and wildlife management, zoology and physiology and forest science. He has studied bats for the past 15 years, focusing on habitat ecology and resource selection for forest bats, which was the topic of his dissertation research. More recently he has led research efforts on bats and wind energy for the past five years. He is currently serving on a number of national committees on wind energy and wildlife impact.
At a time of growing concern over the rising costs and long-term environmental impacts from the use of fossil fuels, wind energy has become an increasingly important sector of the electrical power industry, largely because it has been promoted as being emission free and is supported by government subsidies and tax credits. Nevertheless, there is a growing concern among leading experts that the cumulative impacts of wind energy development on wildlife could become unsustainable if facilities continue to operate without careful planning to minimize harm to bats and birds, both of which are ecologically essential.
Minimizing harmful impacts to wildlife is an essential element of “green energy” and developers of wind energy must substantially increase efforts to improve siting and develop and test methods to reduce harm to wildlife. Unfortunately, Texas, which leads the nation in installed wind energy capacity, woefully trails most states in regard to proactively addressing wildlife impacts. In his presentation, Dr. Arnett will present the current state of knowledge on wildlife impacts at wind facilities, focusing primarily on bats. He also will discuss challenges and opportunities for developing solutions to reduce or eliminate wildlife impacts at wind facilities and the future of Hill Country wildlife.
The free program is open to the public. For more information on this program or the Friends of the Fredericksburg nature center, please call Jane Crone at 830-990-9823.