Though the use of biomass for heat and fuel production is not new in the United States, there has been a renewed interest in bioenergy production in response to increasing energy costs, dependence on foreign oil, greenhouse gas emissions and climate change. Recent legislation reflects the high level of interest. For example, the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act (110 P.L. 140) raised the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS-2) to require biofuels blending (with gasoline) of 36 billion gallons per year by 2022 of which 21 million are to come from non-corn sources with the focus on cellulosic materials. The northern Great Plains holds some of the greatest potential for the production of cellulosic biomass, but the region is also critical for wildlife producing 50-80% of waterfowl populations and providing breeding habitat for more than half of the bird species that breed in North America.
The Best Management Guidelines (BMGs) presented in this document were developed through a process that involved an advisory group of natural resource professionals with expertise in agronomy, production aspects of energy crops, wildlife (amphibians, birds, insects, mammals, reptiles), and native ecosystems. We encourage the adoption and adaptation of these high level guidelines to best benefit local conditions while minimizing negative impacts of bioenergy production on wildlife. It is hoped that the BMGs will make it easier for the bioenergy industry, agricultural producers, policymakers, and others to understand and integrate wildlife needs as bioenergy advances in the Prairie Pothole Region of the Northern Great Plains as well as in adjacent geographies.