DEC Funding Available for Grassland Protection Program

The deadline for accepting applications for the Landowner Incentive Program (LIP) has been extended by two weeks, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced today. The LIP was created as a partnership between DEC and private landowners to help address the loss of grasslands and associated at-risk wildlife species.

The original open application period coincided with the holiday season and recent snowstorms across the state, therefore the new February 1, 2013 deadline will allow more landowners an opportunity to apply.

Grasslands provide important habitat for a variety of wildlife and are especially significant for birds, including the endangered short-eared owl, the threatened Henslow’s sparrow and the threatened upland sandpiper. Eligible private landowners interested in offsetting the decline in grassland bird habitat and populations will be able to apply for technical advice and financial incentives.

To be eligible to apply, an applicant must own at least 25 acres of contiguous grassland located within one of the grassland focus areas across the state. They include portions of the following counties: Allegany, Cayuga, Chemung, Clinton, Cortland, Erie, Essex, Franklin, Fulton, Genesee, Herkimer, Jefferson, Livingston, Madison, Monroe, Montgomery, Niagara, Oneida, Onondaga, Ontario, Orleans, Otsego, Saratoga, Schoharie, Schuyler, Seneca, St. Lawrence, Steuben, Suffolk, Tompkins, Ulster, Washington, Warren, Wayne, Wyoming and Yates. Visit DEC’s website for a map of New York’s grasslands focus areas.

The vast majority of grasslands are privately owned. Under LIP, enrolled landowners that engage in stewardship activities that are beneficial for breeding grassland birds are compensated for their efforts. The program is funded by a grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service through State Wildlife Grants available on DEC’s website. This grant program was created and is funded by Congress to help rare and declining species before they require listing under the Federal Endangered Species Act.

To learn more about the program and obtain an application form, visit the Protecting Grassland Birds on Private Lands page available on DEC’s website. Applications must be post-marked by February 1, 2013.

This article was published by the New York Department of Environmental Conservation.