Mapping the Issues

Increasing our use of green, renewable energy instead of emission-producing fossil fuels is an essential step to combat global warming. But in 2007 the National Academy of Sciences found that the lack of data about wildlife (combined with the jumble of local siting processes) was significantly hampering the development of wind power in the United States. Now, research from Audubon's Sagebrush Initiative is filling in the information gaps and shedding new light on wind turbine and transmission siting decisions. And the good news is that we don't have to choose between protecting critical wildlife habitat and utilizing green energy. Thanks to a new Google Earth tool developed by Audubon and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), and supported by Google.org Geo Challenge Grants, industry, conservationists, policy-makers, and concerned citizens now have instant access to interactive wildlife, habitat and land management maps to guide appropriate site selection for renewable power generation and transmission facilities.

 

Seeing the Issues in Layers via Google Earth

New "layers" on Google Earth help users easily view areas where land use is legally restricted, while other data layers highlight areas that should be avoided in energy development, including habitats critically important to wildlife. Users exploring specific geographical areas (such as those proposed for energy development) can easily see how little land is legally off-limits and which of the remaining areas have unique qualities that deserve special protection. The full potential of the Google Earth project can be seen in maps of six states considered prime wind resources - Wyoming, Montana, Utah, Colorado, North Dakota and South Dakota. Along with existing protected areas, the maps identify critical remaining habitat for the Greater Sage-Grouse, an iconic western species that is seriously threatened by continued loss and degradation of its remaining native habitat.

 

How to Use Google Earth

Google Earth makes it possible to "fly" through space and zoom in on specific geographic areas and learn more about them.

 This Google Earth application is packed with information to help guide green energy developement and minimize impacts on wildlife.

 If you are not already familiar with Google Earth, you will need to download it to your computer.

We have provided basic directions (check out the right-hand menu) within this section on how to use this tool.

 

Google Earth makes it possible to "fly" through space and zoom in on specific geographic areas and learn more about them.

This Google Earth application is packed with information to help guide green energy developement and minimize impacts on wildlife.

If you are not already familiar with Goole Earth, you will need to download it to your computer.

We have provided basic directions below to help you use the tool. Click on thumbnail image to view larger more detailed screen images.