Conservation groups receive funding

Apr 26, 2019

State grants have been awarded to help protect farmland and other natural resources across New York. As WBFO's Chris Caya reports - the recipients include the Western New York Land Conservancy.

DEC Chief of Staff Sean Mahar at Erie County Red Jacket Park at the foot of Smith Street, in Buffalo, Thursday
Credit Chris Caya WBFO News

Department of Environmental Conservation Chief of Staff Sean Mahar says $2.2 million worth of grants have been awarded to 47 organizations across the state for a variety of conservation projects.  
    
"So this funding is going to go a long way to help preserve farmland, protect water quality and really help make sure our habitats are protected and resilient to climate change," Mahar said.  

The funding includes $100,000 for the Western New York Land Conservancy. Its Deputy Executive Director Jajean Rose-Burney says the grant will be used to hire a new full-time Farmland Protection Specialist.

WNY Land Conservancy Deputy Executive Director Jajean Rose-Burney at Red Jacket Park, along the Buffalo River, Thursday
Credit Chris Caya WBFO News

"A lot of farms are being developed, subdivided. Urban sprawl is expanding outside of the city of Buffalo. So we're losing farms. We're losing those businesses that are those small farms. We're losing the food that they protect."   

Rose-Burney says the new staffer will work with farmers who want to maintain their way of life. One way to do that, he says, is by securing state and federal funding and private donations that can be used to buy conservation easements - which, he says, essentially pays the farmer to never develop their land.
    
"That conservation easement runs in perpetuity with the property. So that when they give away their land to their kids, or they sell it, it always has to be available for farmland. Always voluntary. Always done with people who want to do it - communities that want farmland protection. And it's just a win-win for everybody."  

The grants are funded through the state's Environmental Protection Fund.