ALTA ENVIRONMENTAL SERVICES
In 2012, Terra-Gen created Alta Environmental Services (AES). Located in Kern County, California, AES is focused on the protection of the federally endangered California Condor.
Our team is proud to play an important role in the California Condor protection efforts located in the Tehachapi Mountains. AES currently monitors a flock of about 90 Condors and provides this service to other wind energy companies operating in the Tehachapi region.
Monitoring condors requires full-time personnel who track condors during daylight hours when the birds are active. Our team monitors condors by tracking GPS transmitter data or locating them with our radio equipment and binoculars. We do this by monitoring for condor entry into specific areas surrounded by imaginary lines called geofences.
If a condor flies into geofenced airspace monitored by AES, GPS trackers on the condor signals biologists in a nearby tower. Biologists track the condor’s movement and, if warranted, AES will notify nearby operating wind farms. Once notified, wind farm operators can signal project turbines to shut down in as little as one minute. Doing so protects the condors while allowing the much-needed alternative energy projects to operate.
At present, there are approximately 550 of condors worldwide, with about 350 of those living in the western U.S. As part of a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recovery program, the remaining condors are protected in zoos and breeding facilities. These facilities provide a secure place for adult condors to breed and produce offspring that one day can be returned to the wild.
Terra-Gen supports the broader U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service condor recovery program by providing GPS monitors and radio transmitters that are attached to the birds in a manner that does not harm them. The USFWS traps the birds twice a year at specific locations on refuge lands. Biologists perform routine health checks and replace lost or broken radio and GPS transmitters. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service also regularly releases captive bred juvenile condors to join the wild flock. The USFWS uses the GPS data to learn about the birds to support condor recovery.
AES represents an important part of Terra-Gen’s business and a real world example of how we apply our environmental values and work practices to help promote well-sited alternative energy projects and environmental stewardship.