ALBANY — On Friday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill that requires the state to pay property taxes on state-owned land in the towns of Argyle, Fort Edward and Kingsbury.
This land that makes up the Washington County Grasslands provides critical habitat for numerous bird species, such as bobolinks, eastern meadowlarks and sedge wrens, as well as threatened and endangered species such as the northern harrier, short-eared owl and upland sandpiper.
The short-eared owl and upland sandpiper can be found in less than 5 percent of New York state and are primarily threatened by habitat loss.
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The measure will help protect the Washington County Grasslands Important Bird Area.
“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 of Friends of the Washington County Grasslands IBA.
The friends group has conserved and manages over 60 acres of grassland at their Alfred Z. Solomon Grassland Bird Viewing Area in Fort Edward, with another 64 acres under contract. It is a nonprofit land trust dedicated to protecting critical habitat for state-endangered and at-risk grassland birds.