Our View: Wildlife should be considered
December 11, 2019
If things continue as they’re going, we’re likely to see more solar development in Sweetwater County in the coming years.
Along with the current Sweetwater Solar facility west of Green River, a second facility is being proposed in the same area. As most residents are aware now, Rocky Mountain Power’s Integrated Resource Plan calls for the early retirement of two units at the Jim Bridger Power Plant. It also lists potential solar projects that would replace energy lost from the plant’s retirement.
It isn’t a stretch of the imagination to think others are eyeing solar electricity as a growth market to invest in, especially considering Sweetwater County’s reluctance to embrace wind turbines.
Industry will come and go, but the one thing that should remain is Wyoming’s wildlife. The wildlife we see throughout the county is as much a birthright as the open spaces we’re accustomed to. As such, we’re happy to see the Sweetwater County Land Use Office propose language amendments that would make solar developers work more closely with stakeholders. While this helps the trona industry to have better representation in solar proposals, we think this will also help the Wyoming Game and Fish Department have more say with projects that would impact wildlife.
Industrial developments can interrupt historic migration trails and can lead to increased mortality rates for big game animals. While we’re not advocating for the end of all industrial development for the sake of Wyoming’s wildlife, we think the WGFD should have a more pronounced seat in discussions involving industrial developments.
It’s impossible for some industrial developments to not impact wildlife, so forcing developers to work more closely with the WGFD goes a long way in helping alleviate potential impacts.
Wildlife is one of Wyoming’s heritages and should be better considered when industrial developments are proposed.
The herds of game animals, birds, and other animals calling southwestern Wyoming home are an important aspect of life here. It would be a dark day in Wyoming when any industrial development permanently impacts their numbers.