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Landowner Incentive Program

What is the Landowner Incentive Program?

Landowner Incentive Program Grassland Project SiteThe Landowner Incentive Program (LIP) is a unique partnership between the DEC and private landowners to protect the habitat of at-risk species on private lands. The program is funded by a grant from the Department of the Interior, United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).

Landowner involvement in the program is entirely voluntary. Since the land is privately owned, public recreation or use of the sites will not be affected.

Why Protect Private Lands?

As wildlife and habitat managers, we recognize that habitat protection and management are the keys to wildlife survival and perpetuation. Approximately 85% of the State's 32 Million acres are privately owned. The vast majority of wildlife inhabit, use, or move through private property, where necessary management options are currently very limited. Current land-use patterns have also fragmented essential habitat, isolating populations or limiting their access to needed resources. We have learned that we cannot possibly acquire all the land necessary to give wildlife sufficient room and resources to thrive.

Historically, landowners have managed and protected vast areas of wildlife habitat. This program seeks to encourage landowner participation in habitat management and protection by providing technical and financial assistance. This approach recognizes and rewards the role of private individuals in the stewardship of natural resources.

As administrators at the national level have recognized for many years, and as evidenced by the passage of the LIP initiative, concrete incentives (monetary or otherwise) for private landowners are needed to ensure that critical habitats are protected, restored, and maintained for the benefit of wildlife.

In 2004, the USFWS awarded $ 1.12 million to New York to develop and initiate a Landowner Incentive Program. This funding will provide resources to ensure that critical habitats are protected, restored, and maintained for the benefit of wildlife.

Priority Species and Habitats

Gated Bat HibernaculumThis program focuses on the protection and management of specific at-risk species and their habitat. These at-risk species have also been identified as Species of Greatest Conservation Need in our Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy. Some of these species live and breed in habitats found throughout the state, whereas others depend on a few key sites for survival. Identifying and targeting specific sites or geographical areas makes the most efficient use of our resources and provides the greatest benefit for our at-risk species.

To this effect, we are implementing three programs to address this need. The first program is for the protection and management of grassland birds and their habitat, the second is for protection and management of bog turtles and their habitat, and the third is specific to the gating of Indiana bat hibernacula.

We envision that these projects will be just the beginning for the Landowner Incentive Program. In the coming years, we expect our partnership with private landowners to grow and for the program to expand to protect the habitat of other at-risk species and ecological communities throughout the state.