|
|
|
The Dansville Online
  • DEC funding available for Landowner Incentive Program

  • The DEC is looking for area citizens to participate in the Landowner Incentive Program, which offers financial rewards to landowners who help promote bird habitats on their property.

    • email print
  • New York state’s shrinking grasslands could be a boon to the financial bottom lines of local landowners.
    The state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is looking for area citizens to participate in the Landowner Incentive Program, which offers financial rewards to landowners who help promote bird habitats on their property.
     
    According to the DEC, “grassland acreage in the state has decreased drastically over the last three decades primarily due to a reduction in pasture and hayfields, reversion of abandoned farmland to forests, and development of farmland.
    Between 1965 and 2006, pastures and hayfields in New York decreased by approximately 33 percent in area, and, during that time, grassland bird populations decreased at a fairly steady average rate of 6.5 percent per year.”
    Some of the hardest hit species include the endangered short-eared owl, the threatened Henslow’s sparrow, and the threatened upland sandpiper. Through a federal grant program that aims to help rare and declining species before they require listing under the Federal Endangered Species Act, the Landowner Incentive Program provides a partnering of public resources and private lands.
    The goal is to help at-risk species that depend on unique grassland ecosystems to survive, before their habitats and populations decline any further.
    “Through the Landowner Incentive Program, private landowners have been directly involved in conserving grasslands for a variety of species since 2008,” DEC Commissioner Joe Martens said. “Governor Cuomo recognizes the value of this program for vital habitat protection. This latest round of grants will significantly increase the acreage of conservation grasslands and provide even greater benefits for New York’s grassland species.”
    Eligible landowners must own at least 25 acres of contiguous grasslands. The minimum grant rate is $110 per acre. The smallest possible grant, for 25 acres, would amount to $13,750 over five years. Not-for-profit organizations can also apply for the Landowner Incentive Program.  
    Most of Steuben County is included in the DEC’s grassland focus area. All but the northern part of the county is in prime position to participate in the Landowner Incentive Program. The eastern part of Allegany County is also included in the grassland focus area, as is much of Livingston, Yates and Schuyler County.
    Landowner participation is the key to the program.
    “Most of the grasslands in New York are on private lands, and the future of our grassland birds depends on the stewardship of those lands,” said Michael F. Burger, Director of Conservation and Science for Audubon New York. “DEC’s Landowner Incentive Program is critical to provide the education, technical assistance and incentives that will help private landowners support those birds. We look forward to helping DEC make this program a success.”
    Landowners would agree to a set of parameters that optimize their land for grassland birds. This would include not mowing the enrolled grassland during the nesting season between April 23 and August 15, mowing a portion of the grassland after the nesting season and removing some shrubs, certain invasive species, trees, and hedgerows. Some seeding may be needed.
    Page 2 of 2 - Activities that will not be compatible with the program are high density rotational grazing, production of row crops, wind energy production, and mining on enrolled acres. Excessive disturbances, such as frequent travel through the field or loud noises, are also not compatible with the goals of the program.
    These activities are generally compatible outside of the enrolled fields as long as they do not cause an excessive disturbance and may need to be reviewed on an individual basis. Hunting and trapping legal game during the applicable seasons are generally compatible with grassland bird management.
    To learn more about the program and obtain an application form, visit the Protecting Grassland Birds on Private Lands page available on the DEC’s website at www.dec.ny.gov/pubs/32891.html
    For questions or comments regarding the program, email the program at f&wlip@gw.dec.state.ny.us or call (518) 402-8943. Applications must be post-marked by Feb. 1.
     

        calendar