Farmers delay haying to benefit Bobolink - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Farmers delay haying to benefit Bobolink

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SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. - This is the time of year when farmers are hoping to harvest their first cut of hay, but at least five landowners in Chittenden, Addison and Rutland counties are holding off for one reason -- the Bobolink.

The Bobolink Project was started in 2013, a collaboration between the University of Vermont, UVM extension and The University of Connecticut.  The general public was asked to donate to the project to pay farmers to hold off on their first cut in June, giving the Bobolinks time to raise their young in those fields.

"It's gone really well. We closed our donation process the first of May and ended up enrolling 340 acres in the project," said the project's Allan Strong. That's up from last year, the first year of the project when 200 acres were conserved. This year landowners were paid just under $100 an acre.  All of that money -- $32,000 -- was donated.

"Right now all the money that goes to the landowners comes from the public -- it's a direct donation. Every dollar that comes in to the Bobolink Project goes to a land owner. We can make that happen because our time is covered on a federal grant, so we have a USDA grant that covers staff time and our resources," Strong said.

Phil Wagner had 20 acres on his farm in Bridport enrolled in the program last year.  He used the money to make environmental improvements to his barn yard.  He also participated this summer. Strong says now he will be heading out to those fields to better document the number of Bobolinks nesting. "Been out to a few of them, so some Bobolink populations on those, some Savannah Sparrows and Meadowlarks, so it looks like a nice bit of land enrolled this year," Strong said.

Strong hopes to expand the project in the future, and hopes to tap into more federal funds to help make that a reality.

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