We did it! Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the Washington County Grassland Bill (S.1672 (Little) / A.6759 (Woerner) into law on August 17, 2018. The law requires the State of New York to pay property taxes on State-owned land in the towns of Argyle, Fort Edward, and Kingsbury in Washington County, NY.
“This new law assures a win-win-win,” said Senator Betty Little. “Congratulations to Laurie LaFond and Friends of the Washington County Grasslands IBA, Audubon New York, the Southern Adirondack Audubon Society, and the towns of Fort Edward, Kingsbury and Argyle and Washington County Board of Supervisors and others. This collaboration of many and persistence of all helped us get this done.”
“This legislation ensures the cost of conserving New York’s endangered and threatened grassland birds is not borne solely by economically depressed rural communities,” said Laurie LaFond, Founder and Executive Director of Friends of the Washington County Grasslands IBA (FIBA). “We’d like to thank Governor Cuomo, Senator Little, Assemblywoman Woerner, Audubon, ADK and all of our partners who supported this legislation.”
“The agricultural lands of Washington County have been identified as a critical component of the State’s efforts to conserve open space and protect wildlife habitats,” said Assemblymember Carrie Woerner. “While I strongly support environmental conservation, we must also take into account the effect that these purchases have on the tax base of our small rural towns.”
The Washington County Grasslands IBA provides critical habitat for nearly a dozen endangered, threatened and at-risk bird species, including state-endangered Short-eared owls, threatened Northern harriers and Upland sandpipers, Eastern meadowlarks Bobolinks and Sedge wrens. The protection of these grasslands is critical, as these species continue to decline despite current conservation efforts.
“We thank Governor Cuomo for signing this important legislation into law,” said Ana Paula Tavares, Executive Director of Audubon New York. “Washington County provides critical habitat for several threatened and endangered bird species, and continued support for public land acquisition, such as the open space and Wildlife Management Areas in Washington County, is needed to preserve these remaining contiguous grasslands and further New York State’s conservation efforts.”
FIBA is the only nonprofit acquiring and conserving critical habitat for grassland birds in New York State. visit us at www.ibafriends.org for more info.