By Tanya C. O'Neill and Sarah A. Slack, Attorneys, Foley & Lardner LLP
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) issued final Land-Based Wind Energy Guidelines on March 23, 2012 (Guidelines). The Guidelines, which became effective immediately, replaced interim guidelines issued by FWS in 2003, and were developed in coordination with a variety of stakeholders, including federal and state agencies, tribal nations, members of the wind energy industry, and environmental and conservation groups. The goal of the Guidelines is to provide a structured set of best management practices that will allow wind energy developers to work efficiently with FWS to ensure that wind energy projects are protective of species of concern, such as migratory birds, bats, and bald and golden eagles. These Guidelines also are intended to facilitate new wind energy developments consistent with the Obama administration's clean energy initiative.