Whenever Pattern Energy builds a new energy facility, our team works closely with local government and environmental organizations to mitigate and minimize negative environmental impacts.
Wind energy facilities are designed to generate sustainable renewable energy. While that’s good for the environment, we also understand there are potential impacts to native wildlife and plants from the construction and operation of wind facilities.
When developing Ocotillo Wind in Southern California, which is located on land owned by the Bureau of Land Management in Imperial County, east of San Diego and just north of the Mexican border, several issues became critical points of study.
One of the most prominent of these environmental issues was preserving habitat for the endangered Peninsular Bighorn Sheep.
Pattern Energy representatives engaged in extensive consultations with various agencies during project development to ensure that the project would be built in an environmentally responsible manner.
As part of this effort we sought to offset the project’s temporary and permanent environmental impacts on the native bighorn sheep. To do this, we partnered with HELIX Environmental Planning to establish, implement, and monitor our mitigation plans.
Carrizo Marsh was identified as a particular area of concern within the adjacent Anza Borrego Desert State Park due to an invasive species of tamarisk trees. These trees established in the Carrizo Marsh decades ago following Hurricane Kathleen. They had since overrun the area because they thrive in desert environments where surface and subsurface water is present.
Our objective was to offset the impacts to bighorn sheep at Ocotillo Wind by partnering with HELIX and California State Parks to implement the removal and burning of these tamarisk trees at Carrizo Marsh, so that the natural hydrology and native species were restored. Both are important to help allow bighorn sheep to return to the marsh in the future. The improvements to native habitats will benefit the wildlife that uses the marsh.
This was a multi-year mitigation process that cost upwards of $3 million, which included a 5-year process of weed maintenance and monitoring by HELIX following the prescribed burning of the tamarisk trees. The results so far have been a lush regrowth of native plants and trees in the marsh and some return of the water table.
The goal with this project was to re-establish native habitats and improve hydrology within the marsh that would allow for conditions that would attract bighorn sheep and a variety other wildlife species and migratory birds to the restored wetlands area.
Wildlife cameras were set out throughout the mitigation area to show progress and everyone has enjoyed seeing the increases in wildlife use at Carrizo Marsh.