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New York State Ornithological Association, Inc.

[letter on Shawangunk Grasslands]

January 26, 2006

Nancy McGarigal, Planning Team Leader
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
300 Westgate Center Drive
Hadley, MA 01035-9589

Dear Ms. McGarigal:

In the late 1990’s the New York State Ornithological Association under the name of The Federation of New York State Bird Clubs, supported the transfer of the Galeville Military Airport from the military to the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The New York State Ornithological Association remains firm in its support of maintaining the Shawangunk Grasslands National Wildlife Refuge as grasslands. We reject Alternative C which would allow the natural succession of grasslands to shrubs and then woods.  Large areas of grasslands necessary to support the variety of grassland dependent species are disappearing from New York State as fields are abandoned and replaced by homes, shopping centers as well as woodlands.

Grassland species that use the refuge for nesting or wintering which are targeted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for the Shawanunk Grassland NWR are:

  1. Short-eared Owl which is listed as Endangered in New York State
  2. Northern Harrier, Upland Sandpiper, Henslow’s Sparrow Threatened
  3. Horned Lark, Grasshopper Sparrow, Vesper Sparrow are considered as Species of Concern
  4. Bobolink, Eastern Meadowlark and Savannah Sparrow are “Target Species” of the refuge.

The New York State Ornithological Association with its 29,000 plus members supports adopting Alternative B as the approach for maintaining the Shawangunk Grasslands National Wildlife Refuge ecological system. We hope that removal of the runways will be done with as little disruption to the refuge as possible.  We also hope that herbicides will be used judiciously. Further, we favor bow hunting over guns as a means of controlling the deer population which will over browse and destroy the diversity of habitat necessary to maintain grassland bird species.  The restoration of the natural hydrology which the military filled in for runways is an improvement which can only benefit birdlife on the refuge.


Gail M. Kirch
Conservation Co-chair

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