Solar facility raises concerns on Texas prairie

The Smiley-Woodfin Native Prairie Grassland is Texas’s largest remaining section of tall-grass prairie. Credit: Tom Streetman

A solar power facility is slated for Texas’s largest remaining section of tall-grass prairie, raising concerns about its effects on the landscape and the wildlife that occupies it. Near the Oklahoma border, the Smiley-Woodfin Native Prairie Grassland is home to a host of wildlife, including grassland birds and breeding monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus). That’s where the Danish energy company Orsted plans to build the Mockingbird Solar Center, a 400-megawatt operation on 3,594 acres. Company officials say they have been working with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to ensure that wildlife still have access to the land. The Nature Conservancy has also begun meeting with company representatives to try to minimize the facility’s impacts.

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