US Geological Survey


Date of this Version



Published by U.S. Department of Interior, U.S. Geological Survey.


As the Nation strives for energy independence, interest in renewable energy sources intensifies. Wind energy is one such source, and North Dakota, South Dakota, and Montana are ranked among the top five states for wind potential by the Department of Energy. The Missouri Coteau is especially rich in wind energy potential. With its hilly topography and rocky soils, the Coteau also contains large tracts of unplowed grasslands and undrained wetlands. Accordingly, the Coteau is a prime area for nesting waterfowl and other grassland birds, many of which have suffered marked population declines in recent decades. To help maintain breeding populations of these birds, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has established a Grassland Easement Program, which provides landowners with an economic incentive to keep the land in native prairie, rather than converting it to cropland. The USFWS is keenly interested to know if wind turbines are compatible with the goals of their Grassland Easement Program.