A Power Company Provides Critical Support for Birds

Power line crew installs nest platform for ferruginous hawks.

By Sherry Liguori, PacifiCorp Avian Program Manager, and Hannah Ryan, IWJV Communications Specialist

Birds and power lines may not seem like an intuitive mix but the electric utility company, PacifiCorp (which includes Pacific Power and Rocky Mountain Power), has been investing extensively in ways to protect migratory birds and help them coexist with electric infrastructure for decades. PacifiCorp works across California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Utah, and Wyoming to implement programs and projects that keeps birds safe and habitat protected. Over the past 10 years, PacifiCorp has:

  • Surveyed more than 81,000 poles to assess avian electrocution and collision risks
  • Retrofitted 86,300 poles and 278 substations to prevent avian mortality
  • Installed 443 nest platforms for ospreys, hawks, herons, and other species

PacifiCorp is excited about the relationships it has made with the Intermountain West Joint Venture (IWJV) and its partners, which have helped to target on the ground conservation actions for migratory birds, particularly in priority areas such as Southern Oregon Northeastern California and the Bear River watershed of Utah, Wyoming, and Idaho.

For the second consecutive year, PacifiCorp has contributed $20,000 annually to support the IWJV’s implementation of the Sage Grouse Initiative (SGI) Strategic Watershed Action Team (SWAT). The PacifiCorp funding is part of a growing base of partner support for science-based, proactive, voluntary sagebrush habitat conservation through SGI. The funds will be used to strengthen the field delivery, science, and communications capacity of this landmark initiative.

The SGI SWAT is widely acclaimed as the leading model for providing the capacity to deliver voluntary, collaborative conservation at the landscape scale. Funding from non-federal partners is at the heart of this successful model. These funds will help the Natural Resources Conservation Service and participating landowners continue to conserve sagebrush habitat at unprecedented levels through SGI.

PacifiCorp has invested in SGI because of the initiative’s on-the-ground and science-based results to conserve sage-grouse habitat while maintaining working lands.  “Sage grouse conservation is a priority for PacifiCorp, and supporting SGI is one way we can benefit sage grouse and their habitat, as well as our customers, in these landscapes,” said Sherry Liguori, Avian Program Manager for PacifiCorp and IWJV Management Board Member.

“This commitment of funding to support SGI implementation is another example of the power of our broad and diverse Joint Venture partnership,” said Miles Moretti, President/CEO of the Mule Deer Foundation and IWJV Management Board Member. “Non-federal funding plays a critical role in fueling the SGI engine and we are extremely appreciative of PacifiCorp’s support.”

Pheasants Forever, Inc., a valued partner in SGI implementation, received the PacificCorp contribution and will administer it for the IWJV. These funds and partner contributions from over forty conservation organizations support SGI implementation. Pheasants Forever is dedicated to the conservation of pheasants, quail and other wildlife habitat through habitat improvements, public awareness, education and land management policies and programs.

 “This commitment to the resources and people of the West is remarkable,” said Ron Leathers, Pheasants Forever Public Finance Director and IWJV Management Board Member.  “This contribution demonstrates the breadth of the partnership working together to address the challenges facing the sage steppe landscape.” 

As SGI continues to advance targeted on-the-ground sage grouse conservation based on critical threats, the IWJV is highly interested in developing new and innovative funding partnerships to match NRCS investments to date. Please contact IWJV Coordinator, Dave Smith, for further information on opportunities to fund the capacity for this bold and unparalleled conservation initiative.