Land Use

Strategy: Protect, Enhance, or Purchase Land
Issue: Wildlife Habitat

When hydroelectric projects are constructed, some wildlife habitats are inundated. Inundation refers to areas behind a dam that become “flooded” when the water level rises to a new height. How much habitat is gained or lost relates to the topography and the size of the project’s reservoir (if one exists).

As a new equilibrium takes hold, new habitat conditions emerge. For some species, these new conditions are an advantage in their quest for survival. For other species, these new conditions can cause their population to decline or be eliminated in these areas.

One method of minimizing the effects of inundation is to protect and/or enhance other lands for wildlife. This may include purchase of lands that can be protected, changes in land use, or creation of refuges.

Hydropower operators also participate in programs to protect or reintroduce species. For instance, a significant benefit of reservoirs is that they provide important nesting, resting, and feeding grounds for migratory birds and waterfowl. Other examples of activity include efforts to reintroduce peregrine falcons to the Northwest and rehabilitating streambanks to benefit wildlife who live and feed along the banks.