Merlin Ecological, and our principal ecologist, have conducted research all across the country, with wind projects in Florida, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Illinois, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. Projects conducted by Merlin Ecological and Dr. Caitlin Coberly include:
Hurricane Wind/Ridgeline Energy (Glades County, FL)
This project stands to be one of the first wind projects in Florida. We have worked with the developer to prioritize low-impact areas. For this project, we completed avian and bat surveys, nest surveys and monitoring for the federally endangered Crested Caracara and BGEPA protected Bald Eagles. We used GIS to analyzed flight lines. We produced quantitative risk assessments which are consistent with the USFWS risk assessment for eagles. The project developer plans to move forward in the near future.
DTE Wind Energy Development (Huron County, MI)
We conducted numerous studies at this location, including Bald eagle nest monitoring, aerial waterfowl surveys, avian acoustic analysis for migrating passerines, bat acoustic surveys, and four season avian point count surveys. We also conducted critical issues analysis, statistical analysis and quantitative risk assessment for the client. We served as liaison with state and federal personnel and delivered presentations about wildlife impacts to the public. Our studies were designed to assist the developer in selecting sites to minimize wildlife impacts. We won praise from state agency for exceptionally thorough surveys and review. This project has proceeded to permitting with minimal objection and serves as a model project for us.
Wyandotte City Wind project (Wyandotte, MI)
We conducted biological reviews, bat acoustic analysis and avian point count surveys. We developed a mathematical tool to evaluate risk to protected species. Close to the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge and the Lake Erie Metropark Hawkwatch site, the Wyandotte project has been cited as a model modern energy development. Our survey design and analysis allowed the city to propose low-impact sites for initial development.
Harvest Wind Farm (Huron County. MI)
For the Harvest Wind project, we conducted all aspects of biological surveys. Unique to this project, we developed a mathematical estimate of setback distances to avoid and minimize impacts to Tundra Swans which stopover at the nearby Wildfowl Bay during spring migration. We also conducted post-construction mortality surveys. Our surveys were conducted to be economically feasible, and yet demonstrated low-impact areas which could be responsibly developed. Post-construction surveys helped validate our pre-construction mortality model, and indicated that project expansion could be considered. Harvest was one of the first wind projects developed in Michigan.
Seneca Wind Farm (Seneca, OH)
We conducted county-wide avian surveys, raptor nest searches and Bald Eagle nest monitoring. We assisted the client to control costs by training their employees to maintain the bat acoustic monitoring equipment. We also trained local consultants to conduct industry-standard avian surveys and eagle nest monitoring. We identified high probability migration corridors for the client, and documented Bald Eagle flight lines which could then be used to create a GIS-layer of higher and lower risk areas for avoidance and minimization planning without substantial loss to the project footprint.
Undisclosed location, Wyoming
Located on a large cattle ranch, much of the area is inaccessible by car, especially during early spring. We conducted aerial raptor nest surveys to maximize the cost-benefit ratio of surveys. We conducted follow-up surveys by foot to pinpoint nest locations and occupancy. While not necessary at this location, we are capable of conducting surveys by horseback when minimizing disturbance is a priority, or when large roadless areas need to be accessed. At this site, our surveys found Golden Eagle, Red-tailed Hawk, and, Ferruginous Hawk nests. These surveys could be combined with our GIS-model to avoid and minimize direct or habitat level impacts to these species as the project moves forward.
Undisclosed location, North Dakota
We conducted a desktop review of critical issues and a “windshield survey” of the site location. We documented Whooping Crane activity and Piping Plover breeding near the proposed project location. However, much of the proposed area is unsuitable habitat for either bird, and the developer is currently permitting the project with FWS.
Undisclosed location, Minnesota
We conducted preliminary site surveys and documented eagle activity and grouse locations for this site in Minnesota. We photo-journaled the location for our client in another state and worked with a well known archaeological firm to provide a full-service initial site assessment. Our surveys serve to show which areas are sensitive, and which areas are considered low risk under the USFWS Land-based Wind Energy Guidelines.
Undisclosed location, Wyoming
At this largely inaccessible location, we conducted aerial surveys for raptor nests and ground-truthed these locations for occupancy. Few raptors were observed in this largely wooded area. However, our surveys were able to indicate some areas for avoidance and minimization, such as this active Prairie Falcon nest site (notice the whitewash under the male falcons favorite perch), without unduly limiting the overall footprint of the project.