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Promoting the enjoyment, study, and conservation of Wisconsin's birds.



We need your help today.

The Public Service Commission (PSC) of Wisconsin is currently reviewing a proposal by Vista Sands Solar (VSS) to construct a 9,854-acre solar farm near the towns of Grant and Plover in Portage County.  The project will cover approximately 10 square miles and will be immediately adjacent to the Buena Vista State Wildlife Area in several locations. 

As most of our members know, Buena Vista grasslands is home to the largest remaining population of Greater Prairie-chickens in the state.

Because of the proximity of the project to Buena Vista, the PSC recently required the Wisconsin DNR to prepare a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS).   While the WSO is deeply concerned about the effects of climate change on grassland birds and fully supports renewable energy, we have strong reservations about the scale of this project, its proximity to the Buena Vista SWA, and the scope of the DEIS. 

Since solar farms are relatively new features on our landscape, there are no specific studies on the impact of solar arrays on Greater Prairie-chickens.  However, the 147-page DEIS does not address the potential effects the VSS project will have on the viability of the severely depressed population remaining in Wisconsin.  These include:

  • Habitat fragmentation exacerbated by all structures in the solar array
  • Disruption of breeding season during construction
  • Proximity of solar arrays to leks, nesting habitat, and brood-rearing habitat, leading to abandonment of high-quality habitats
  • Fences and other structures that will facilitate predation on Greater Prairie-chickens
Our concern is that the document, as written, lacks a cumulative effects analysis.  Simply put, that means it is taking a “wait-and-see” approach to these and other threats posed by the VSS project.  This will lead to disaster.  Once the project’s detrimental effects are identified, the harm done to the remaining population will be so great that their survival will be at risk. 

That’s why we need you to speak up for the Greater Prairie-chickens today! 

The DEIS is currently open for public comment until Friday, June 14th.  We urge all WSO members to submit comments to the PSC asking that the DEIS be revised to include a cumulative effects analysis of how this fundamental change to the landscape will affect this state-threatened bird, and what sorts of specific mitigation measures will be implemented to protect the Greater Prairie-chicken population. 

There are three ways to submit comments.  All comments should reference PSC Docket # 9820-CE-100.

  1. Email comments to
  2. Mail comments to: Anna Edmunds, Environmental Review Coordinator, Public Service Commission, P.O. Box 7854. Madison, WI 53707-7854
  3. Submit comments electronically here


Fred Hamerstrom's 1959 photo of restored grassland habitat at WSO's Buena Vista property. 

In 1957, WSO heeded the call of conservationists who feared for the future of the Greater Prairie-chicken in Wisconsin.  We bought 60 acres of grasslands and added it to land that was purchased by the Dane County Conservation League and the DNR to create the Buena Vista Wildlife Area.  We have long fought to protect this magnificent bird.

Please, help us protect that legacy by taking a moment now to express your concern about the health, well-being, and future of the Greater Prairie-chicken and the other grassland birds that call Buena Vista home.