Acres for Owls Campaign

The Campaign

Friends of the IBA (FIBA) is the only nonprofit acquiring and conserving critical habitat for New York’s endangered and at-risk grassland birds.  We've acquired and permanently protected 14 acres of critical habitat and manage an adjacent 50 acres under a conservation agreement. We have another 64 acres under contract.  These parcels lie within the viewshed of our Alfred Z. Solomon Grassland Bird Viewing Area (AZS), located in the heart of the Washington County Grasslands Important Bird Area (IBA).

We’re asking you to help us raise $125,000 so we can purchase and permanently protect another 64 acres of critical habitatThe Washington County Grasslands IBA is critical to the survival of Short-eared owls in New York State. It supports 10 of 11 of NY’s most imperiled grassland birds, including the state endangered Short-eared owls, Eastern meadowlarks, Horned larks, Upland sandpipers, Northern harriers, American kestrels, Grasshopper sparrows, Bobolinks and more! The area provides important habitat for over 100 other bird and animal species, including Snowy owls, Rough-legged hawks and Eastern bluebirds.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has listed the Washington County Grasslands IBA as a conservation priority in the state’s Open Space Plan. Yet less than 300 acres of this 2,000-acre grassland have been protected. Hundreds of acres have already been lost to development, which is why FIBA’s work is so vital!  [NOTE: we've raised $65,000 of the $125,000 needed and have until the end of 2018 to raise the balance.] 


(photo of Snowy owl courtesy Ken Rohling)

Benefits of Grassland Birds

Grassland birds prey on insects and rodents that damage and destroy crops or carry diseases such as Lyme and other tick-borne illnesses. Farmers and gardeners would see their crop yields decrease without the FREE ecological services these birds provide. They would apply MORE chemicals to crops, resulting in MORE harmful chemicals in our food supply and environment. Grassland birds keep food costs down - these will increase as the birds disappear and the cost of production increases.

Grassland birds share their habitat with hundreds of other species. Bees and butterflies are needed to pollinate fruits, vegetables, hay and other crops (and provide honey!). Deer, turkey, fox, rabbits and dozens of other animals depend on grasslands for food and cover. Preserving NY’s biodiversity will benefit everyone, not just the kids and adults who will come to see and experience Short-eared owls and other grassland birds in their natural habitat.  

Benefits you will receive when you contribute to this campaign: 1) knowing you helped ensure Short-eared owls will not become extinct (extirpated) from New York State (as they have in four of eight states in their historical range in the U.S.); 2) protecting and preserving this vital resource and NY’s biodiversity; 3) FIBA Membership – benefits include free guided bird walks and tours (including winter raptor and owl tours), discounted Winter Raptor Fest admission and more! 

Challenges & Opportunities

FIBA's challenge for this project is to raise $125,000 so we can close on the land purchase before the end of the year.  We've raised approximately $65,000 of the $125,000 needed for the land acquisition and need to raise the balance by the end of 2018. Please Help by sending in a contribution and posting this link on your website/Facebook/etc. < 

Our greatest challenge is our need to fundraise for every land purchase. Development pressure in this economically depressed rural is high. Many small farmers would like to see their lands conserved but they do not have the financial resources to give the land away. We’ve seen hundreds of acres lost to development because we did not have the capacity to make those purchases.
Time is not on our side. 

The fact that only 15% of the land in the 2,000 acre target area is protected is both a threat and an opportunity.  We have opportunities to conserve another 300 acres of critical habitat in the Washington County Grasslands from willing landowners. We will continue to fundraise for additional land purchases and an endowment for stewardship and future land acquisitions. 
Please DONATE Today!



Other Ways You Can Help

Want to support this project but can’t contribute right now?

  1. Help spread the word about our campaign to save critical habitat for NY’s endangered Short-eared owls and other at-risk grassland birds.
  2. We’re always looking for volunteers who share our passion for the birds and our mission and want to help.  We need people to help with stewardship, fundraising, publicity and a variety of other tasks. Call us at: 518-499-0012