Ørsted Partners with Playa Lakes Joint Venture to Restore and Preserve West Texas Wetlands

Ørsted’s contribution will restore habitat for migratory birds and other wildlife while supporting community water management 
Austin, TX – March 22, 2023 – Ørsted, a leading clean energy developer, is contributing $100,000 to Playa Lakes Joint Venture (PLJV), a nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving bird habitat across the western Great Plains, to restore and conserve 500 acres of playas in West Texas near Ørsted’s operating wind farms. Over 19,000 playas are found in the Texas High Plains, the highest density of playas in North America.

Playas are round, shallow wetlands with clay basins that collect and hold water from rainfall and runoff, creating temporary lakes. In arid landscapes, as found in West Texas, these wetlands are a main source of water, providing important habitat for birds and other wildlife. Also a primary source of groundwater recharge to the vast Ogallala aquifer, playas play an important part in providing future water for communities struggling to deal with drought and declining aquifer levels.

“Playa lakes are biodiversity hotspots of the high plains,” said Daniel Willard, Biodiversity Specialist at Ørsted. “Millions of shorebirds and waterfowl like northern pintail and sandhill cranes flock to Texas playa lakes for overwinter and migration stopover habitat, and other wildlife depend on playas for food and nesting through the year. That’s why we are excited to partner with PLJV in support of our mission to deliver green energy while protecting and enhancing biodiversity.”

Although playas offer significant ecological benefits, they have historically been misunderstood. Over the last several decades more than 80% of playas have been modified by land disturbance and are no longer functioning as healthy. A healthy playa has an intact clay basin — without excavated pits or ditches — that is not buried by sediment from nearby fields. It also is protected by a vegetative buffer that traps sediment and contaminants. Modifications can reduce surface water area, depleting wildlife habitat and disrupting aquifer recharge.

Ørsted’s contribution to this effort will help West Texas landowners restore and protect playas for the benefit of wildlife and people. This includes restoring the ecological function of playas by filling pits that have been dug in playa basins, removing sediments accumulated by run-off over decades, and restoring native vegetation buffers around restored playas to prevent contaminants from entering the playa basin.

Ørsted is the first renewable energy company to partner with PLJV to support playa restoration work as part of the Texas Playa Conservation Initiative (TxPCI). PLJV, along with Texas Parks and Wildlife and Ducks Unlimited, is a founding member of TxPCI, a partnership of key stakeholders devoted to playa conservation in Texas. Since 2017, the TxPCI partnership has restored nearly 3,000 acres of playas. 

“PLJV supports renewable energy and is committed to working with renewable energy companies to help mitigate climate change impacts to bird habitat, while working together to conserve natural resources for the benefit of both people and wildlife,” PLJV Coordinator Mike Carter said. “It is rewarding to partner with Ørsted to support cleaner energy while increasing biological function on playas. We appreciate not only Ørsted’s financial commitment to restoring these critical wetlands, but also the shared understanding of the importance of maintaining biodiversity.”

This restoration effort builds on Ørsted's ambition for all renewable energy projects to have a net positive biodiversity impact from 2030 onward. Ørsted’s global biodiversity platform ranges from tallgrass prairie conservation and regrowing coral to monitoring crustacean habitats, seagrass restoration and oyster reintroduction.

About Ørsted 
A global clean energy leader, Ørsted develops, constructs, and operates offshore and land-based wind farms, solar farms, energy storage facilities, and bioenergy plants. Ørsted is the only energy company in the world with a science-based net-zero emissions target as validated by the Science Based Targets initiative. 
In the United States, the company has approximately 650 employees and a growing portfolio of clean energy assets and partnerships that includes offshore wind energy, land-based wind energy, solar, storage technologies and e-fuels. A leader across the renewable energy sector in the United States, Ørsted holds the top position in offshore wind energy with approximately 5 gigawatts in development and operates America’s first offshore wind farm, located off the coast of Block Island. Ørsted has a total U.S. land-based capacity of 5 gigawatts across wind, solar, storage technologies and e-fuels. To learn more about the Ørsted U.S. business, visit us.orsted.com or follow the company on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter (@ØrstedUS).  

About Playa Lakes Joint Venture
Playa Lakes Joint Venture is a regional partnership of federal and state wildlife agencies, conservation groups and private industry dedicated to conserving bird habitat throughout the western Great Plains — including portions of Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas. PLJV facilitates communication and coordination among partners, provides science-based information and tools, and removes roadblocks to conservation. 
As a migratory bird joint venture, the partnership works to ensure that all birds have a home. That means maintaining a balance of habitat types to support landbirds, waterbirds and waterfowl, and shorebirds. Like people, birds have different requirements for where they live. From grasslands and shrublands to various types of wetlands, each habitat plays an important role in providing a home for the many species of birds — and people — that depend on this landscape.

Learn more about PLJV at pljv.org.