Date: 1/9/21 5:17 pm
From: Dave Nutter <nutter.dave...>
Subject: [cayugabirds-l] Future of Lott Farm & Basin Upland Sandpipers?
As many of you know, the private Lott Farm, located on the NE corner of NYS-414 and Martin Rd on the south border of the Town of Seneca Falls, has long been the site for the August farm equipment fair called Empire Farm Days. Therefore it has fortuitously been managed as an extensive grassland. It is the only remaining breeding site in the Cayuga Lake Basin for Upland Sandpipers (They bred between Wood Rd & Caswell Rd in Dryden years ago, before a few houses went in there.) as well as a great place for many other breeding grassland birds, the occasional rare Dickcissel, plus fairly regular Snowy Owls in winter. Furthermore, the owner has been gracious in granting access, without charging any fee, to birders who simply request permission, describe their vehicle, and agree to remain on the gravel roads.

In talking to Reuben Stoltzfus this evening I learned that we cannot take for granted the situation which had simply been the result of good luck and generosity. This past year, the Empire State Farm Days event did not take place due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But also the event is now under new management who have chosen a different site for the future. This means that whatever profit and benefit which the Lott Farm gained from that event is gone. And they never got any benefit except good will from us birders.

While Reuben has not talked to the farm owner and did not know of any plans for this land which had been managed as grassland, I think it’s safe to assume that there is a strong incentive for the owner to find some use which will pay the taxes or turn a profit, and that grassland bird habitat may not be in the picture unless action is taken quickly to encourage future management to allow these birds to continue, before decisions are made - if they have not been finalized already - for the plowing or construction season this spring.

Is this something about which local bird clubs would want to work with the owner of Lott farm? Are there DEC programs which can reimburse landowners for maintaining such habitat? Would bird clubs want to help more directly? Would birders be willing to pay a small fee for the privilege of birding there or to become members of some organization for the pride of knowing they are helping some regionally rare birds survive where we can sometimes see them?

These are just some ideas based on very limited information. I know there are people reading this who are far better than I am at organizing, networking, researching, and promoting these things. Please think about it, discuss it, and help ensure that come mid-April the Upland Sandpipers have a home to return to. Thanks.

- - Dave Nutter

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