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Grassland LIP Grants: Project Selection Process

How Will Grassland Proposals Be Selected for Funding?

To fund the best projects, allot funds most effectively, and provide the greatest ecological benefit for our at-risk species, DEC will rank proposals through a three-stage process that considers both quantitative and qualitative factors, placing each proposal into a priority funding level. The cost effectiveness of a proposal will be determined by the number of grassland bird species that can be protected through grant funding. You can view a sample pre-application and proposal scoring (PDF) (262 kB) for reference.

Stage 1- Submission of Pre-Applications

Pre-applications will be reviewed and scored by DEC using criteria specific to grassland bird ecology and natural history (See "Stage 1 - Pre-Application Quantitative Scoring" below). Applications having a pre-application score of 50 points or higher will move on to "Stage 2 - Qualitative Scoring". Applications that score below 50 points in the pre-application stage will be returned to the applicant and will not be considered eligible for further review and evaluation.

Pre-Application Quantitative Scoring:

All pre-applications, received by the deadline, will be scored by the DEC program coordinator (the coordinator) using quantitative criteria specific to grassland bird ecology. In addition to the basic information provided by an applicant in the pre-application, data relating to these criteria will be gathered from DEC's 2000-2005 Breeding Bird Atlas (BBA) surveys and through current high-definition aerial photography of New York State. These data will be used to calculate a point score for each of the following criteria:

Diversity: Number of species from the at-risk species list documented as "possible", "probable", or "confirmed" breeding in the 2000-2005 Breeding Bird Atlas block(s) in which the proposed project is located. The Breeding Bird Atlas is a state-wide comprehensive survey that will show the distribution of bird species that breed in New York State.


  • For endangered, threatened or special-concern species - each species present x 10 points.
  • For non-listed species - each species present x 3 points

Colonization Potential: Number of additional species (not identified above) from the at-risk species list documented as possibly breeding (or higher) in the BBA blocks contiguous to the one in which the proposed project is located. These neighboring species would serve to colonize the subject parcel after habitat management.


  • For endangered, threatened, or special concern species - each species present x 5 points.
  • For non-listed species - each species present x 1 points

Size: Grassland acreage to be enhanced or maintained. The greater the contiguous acreage, the better for grassland birds. Area will be rounded to the nearest acre.


  • Less than 25 acres - not eligible
  • 25-30 acres - number of acres x 1 points
  • 31-50 acres - number of acres x 1.1 points
  • 51-100 acres - number of acres x 1.5 points
  • 101 or more acres - number of acres x 1.75 points

Perimeter/Area Ratio: This ratio is calculated by comparing the perimeter, or edge, of a parcel to the area, or interior. Interior habitat is preferable for many grassland bird species as there are generally fewer disturbances, predators and social parasites, such as the brown-headed cowbird, which lays its eggs in the nests of other birds, in an interior location as opposed to on the edge of a parcel. Therefore, a low perimeter/area ratio has greater habitat value. This is another way of considering the shape of a grassland parcel. Thus, a perfectly square parcel is preferable to a long and thin rectangular one of the same area.


  • Good: Perimeter/Area less than to 0.015 = 25 points
  • Neutral: Perimeter/Area greater or equal to 0.015 and less than 0.030 = 0 points
  • Bad: Perimeter/Area equal to or greater than 0.030 = -25 points

Surrounding Beneficial Landscape Ratio: This is a measure of the suitability of the surrounding habitat for grassland birds. If a project site is adjacent to other grasslands or other non-forested or developed habitat, it increases the value of the parcel to the target species, increasing the score for the project. For this score, habitat within one kilometer (a little over half a mile) of the edge of the parcel will be considered.


  • Good: Beneficial area/Total area is equal to or greater than 0.50 = 10 points
  • Neutral: Beneficial area/Total less than 0.50 and greater than 0.25 = 0 points
  • Bad: Beneficial area/Total less than or equal to 0.25 = -10 points

Based on the above criteria, a total number of points will be tallied. Scores that total below the sum of 50 will be categorized as "Low," scores between 50 and 100 will be categorized as "Medium," and scores greater than 100 will be categorized as "High." Pre-applications categorized as "Low" will be returned to the applicant with an accompanying letter stating their score and will not be considered eligible for further review. Pre-applications categorized as "Medium" and "High" will move on to the Stage 2 qualitative evaluation.

The DEC review panel will evaluate each application in the Stage 2 evaluation process identified below.

Stage 2 - Qualitative Scoring - Evaluation of Proposed Projects

The proposed project will be evaluated by a panel of DEC staff using the following criteria and Best Management Practices for Grassland Birds to assess the project in each of the following three categories:

Project Conservation Benefit: Will the proposed project significantly improve ecological conditions for the target species at the site?

  • Is the project near or adjacent to other protected grasslands?

Threats Assessment: If the project is not done, what is the probability that the site will become crop land, developed, or otherwise become unsuitable for the target species?

  • Are there local development threats or factors that may affect the success of the project?
  • Is there biofuel/wind energy production nearby?

Feasibility of Success: How likely is it that the project will be successful in accomplishing grassland bird protection and management?

  • Do large unbroken thick hedgerows with mature trees divide the fields?
  • Does the interior of the grassland contain a large expanse of shrubs or other woody material?
  • Does the landowner have the capability to carry out the required management?

Each member of the review panel will individually rate each proposal in three qualitative categories as "High," "Medium," or "Low." An overall rating will be assigned for each category based on a simple plurality of the team.

Stage 3- Method of Award and Assignment of Funding Priorities:

Combining the Quantitative and Qualitative Scores

Once DEC has finished the quantitative scoring and qualitative evaluation for all eligible proposals, projects will be classified into priority levels according to the following matrix:

Quantitative Score Qualitative Score
Qualitative Score
Qualitative Score
Priority 1 Priority 3 Priority 5
(50 - 100)
Priority 2 Priority 4 Priority 6
(Less than 50)
N/A1 N/A N/A

1 N/A = proposals that were ranked "Low" during the Quantitative Scoring will not be considered for selection

  • Projects will be selected for funding in descending score order within each priority level, beginning with Priority Level 1, then 2, then 3, until available funding is exhausted.
  • In the unlikely event that two projects receive the same score and sufficient funds remain for only one of the projects, DEC will decide which project to fund based on the cost efficiency of the projects and the need for protection of specific species cited in the projects.
  • If there is insufficient funding to pay for all Priority Level 3 projects, they will be selected in descending order based on project score.
  • Projects classified as Priority Level 4 will be considered individually and will be funded only if the total amount awarded for priority 1 through 3 projects for that year is 10 percent or less of the total available funds remaining for the program.
  • Applications that are not funded in Priority Level 4 and those in Priority Levels 5 and 6, will be returned to the applicant with an explanation of why their application did not score well. Applicants may revise their unfunded applications and resubmit them during the next available open application period.

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