New York state expands popular grassland bird area

New York is buying 180 acres to expand a wildlife area that's a popular destination for birders looking for snowy owls and other rare birds of prey. (Photo by Bill Diers)

FORT EDWARD, N.Y. — New York is buying 180 acres to expand a wildlife area that’s a popular destination for birders looking for snowy owls and other rare birds of prey.

The Department of Environmental Conservation is adding the land to the existing 286-acre Washington County Grasslands Wildlife Management Area in Fort Edward. The state-owned area is within a 2,000-acre grassland recognized by the National Audubon Society as critical bird habitat.

The agency plans to build two parking areas, a half-mile trail and a handicapped-accessible viewing blind. It’s also considering stocking pheasants on the site, which will be open to hunting in season.

The area is the largest stretch of open grassland in eastern New York. It’s home to 10 of the state’s most imperiled grassland birds, including short-eared owls and northern harriers.

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