July 3, 2006
First Habitat Protection Project Funded Under the State
Landowner Incentive Program
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
(DEC) today announced the first project funded from the State's
Landowner Incentive Program (LIP). LIP is a new collaborative
initiative between DEC and landowners to protect the habitat of
at-risk species on private lands. The program is funded by a grant
from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.
During the week of June 12, DEC repaired gates to the entrance of
Graphite Mine in the Adirondacks to protect one of the critical
bat-wintering sites in the Northeast. This was the first of six
Indiana Bat sites that will be gated by DEC, and the first
LIP-funded activity for the State. From the late 1800s to 1920,
this mine was the chief source of graphite for the country. The
site is now the winter home, or "hibernaculum", of an estimated
180,000 bats, including approximately 200 endangered Indiana bats,
small-footed bats, and thousands of little and large brown bats,
Eastern pipistrelles and other species.
The privately-owned Graphite Mine had originally been gated by The
Nature Conservancy and Bat Conservation International in 1997.
Since then, several new holes had opened up, both as a result of
erosion and due to illegal digging and trespass. With the
landowner's permission, and with funding from the LIP, DEC
performed the necessary repairs.
Bats are most vulnerable when they are hibernating. Disturbance,
such as human intrusion, wakes up and stirs the sleeping bats,
causing them to deplete their fat supplies at an accelerated rate
and reducing the chances of the animals surviving through the
winter. Gating the entrances to prevent trespass into hibernacula
is one of the chief measures for survival of bat species.
Additionally, the gates prevent human access to a dangerous and
unstable mine, reducing the chances of a serious accident. The
gates allow the bats to pass through and do not interfere with air
circulation, but prevent unauthorized access.
The federally-funded LIP is restricted to projects that benefit
species of greatest conservation need, as identified in the
State's Wildlife Action Plan. In the future, LIP is expected to
expand to protect dwindling grassland and habitat of the
endangered bog turtle. Future LIP grants will address other
important habitats and ecological communities of concern.