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CWF supports Colorado Senator Mark Udall's bill to balance wind and solar energy development on federal public lands with wildlife habitat protection and restoration.
It is important that sensitive wildlife habitat be protected during large-scale renewable energy development. We thank Senator Udall for sponsoring the bi-partisan Public Lands Renewable Energy Development Act (S. 1775) to provide a framework for development of wind and solar energy sources on federal public lands while addressing impacts to fish and wildlife. Companion bills have been introduced in the House (H.R. 5991 and H.R. 6154). It would create a pilot leasing program for wind and solar development on public lands, and establish a royalty on energy produced from these lands. It incorporates a shared royalty revenue structure.
S. 1775 and H.R. 5991 specify that 35 percent of the royalty revenues (25% in H.R. 6154) would be invested in a renewable energy resource conservation fund designed to mitigate and minimize impacts of development, including "restoring and protecting fish and wildlife habitat for affected species ... fish and wildlife corridors for affected species and water resources," "...securing recreational access to federal land from willing sellers... that is inaccessible or significantly restricted," and to carry out activities authorized under the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act in the state. In addition, 25 percent of revenues would be allocated to states, 25 percent to county governments, and 15 percent for processing permits. Developers will benefit from a clear and efficient process that removes the uncertainty inherent in the currrent right-of way permitting system. The Departments of Interior and Agriculture will be able to prioritze development on high energy potential and low resource conflict areas, allowing developers to save time and money on the site selection components of their projects while critical species and their habitats remain protected.
Note: a poll of voters in 11 western states in August found 73 percent of surveyed voters support responsible production of wind and solar energy on federal public lands. 85 percent want a portion of royalty payments to go toward restoring fish and wildlife habitat. The poll was conducted by Peak Campaigns and Bellweather Research and Consulting.
State BIll - SB 13-175 Habitat Stamp reauthorization passes House and Senate
CWF worked with other organizations to weigh in on provisions we believed should form the bill. Habitat Stamps are required to be purchased by everyone who hunts and fishes in Colorado -- and they may be purchased by anyone else simply to support the program. Habitat Stamps fund purchase of easements, fee title acquisition of key habitats, and enhancements as authorized by a the Habitat Stamp Committee and approved by Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
Under the Bill, "...parks and wildlife commission is directed to use revenues from the wildlife habitat stamp to give sufficient priority to conserve and protect winter range and vital habitats, including migration corridors, for deer, elk, and other big game species; to improve public access for hunting, access for anglers to the waters of the state, and access for other wildlife-related recreation; to protect habitat for species of concern; and to preserve the diversity of wildlife."
CWF supported this bill and testified in favor of it at the February 20 hearing before the Senate Agricultural and Natural Resources Committee and before the House Agriculture, Livestock and Natural Resources Committee.
The bill passed out of Senate Agriuclture and Natural Resources Committee on a 3-2 vote and passed the Senate on March 13. It passed out of the House Agricultural, Livestock and Natural Resources Committee on Monday, March 18 on a 9-4 vote. The Bill was passed by the House on April 22.