High quality bird habitats are featured prominently in the State's new conservation wish list. The 2006 Open Space Conservation Plan lists more than 100 areas, or projects, that have been identified as priorities for open space and natural resource conservation in New York State. Included among these projects are most of the sites identified by Audubon as Important Bird Areas (IBAs).
Projects listed in the Open Space Plan are eligible for state money for protection through acquisition, conservation easements, or other means, such as smart growth and farmland preservation initiatives. Most of the priority projects listed in New York's Open Space Plan were identified by nine regional committees, whose members include representatives of towns, counties, conservation organizations and other citizens. Projects range from specific single properties to larger regions. Some of the larger projects, such as the South Shore Estuary Preserve on Long Island, include multiple IBAs.
State law requires that the State's Open Space Plan be updated every three years. Since the release of the 1998 Open Space Plan, which coincided with Audubon New York's publication of the first edition of Important Bird Areas in New York State, the number of IBAs included in the Plan has increased, as has the acknowledgement of the IBA program and the significance of sites designated as IBAs.
Listing in the Open Space Plan is only the first step toward protection of these valuable habitats. Importantly, in recent years, IBAs have been protected or improved through dozens of Open Space Plan projects. These and other successes are highlighted in the 2006 OSP.
For more information, contact Audubon New York at (518) 869-9731.