Albany Pine Bush News

Funding To Help Pine Bush Maintain Karner Blue Butterfly Habitat

Albany, NY – National Grid and the Albany Pine Bush Preserve are working together to help maintain and support the environment and create butterfly-friendly areas around utility Rights-Of-Way within the preserve.

National Grid today presented the Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission (APBPC) with a $50,000 donation to assist them in their efforts to create and enhance habitats for the endangered Karner blue butterfly habitat on 23 acres of National Grid’s electric transmission line rights-of-way which are adjacent to the Albany Pine Bush Preserve.

National Grid is providing the APBPC with this funding and with the access and vegetation management rights needed to manage these right-of-way habitats. These efforts will help to increase the habitat acreage for both the Karner blue butterfly and the frosted elfin, a New York State-listed threatened butterfly, which shares habitats with the Karner blue butterfly.

“National grid is committed to being an innovative leader in energy management, to safeguarding our global environment for future generations and to the protection and enhancement of the environment. We are always seeking new ways to minimize the environmental impact of our past, present and future activities,” Said Ken Daly, president of National Grid in New York. “Our electrical transmission lines which run through the Pine Bush are important conduits of energy to growing communities in the Capital Region. Therefore, we recognize that the area around them needs to be protected to allow for further development of the habitat.”

“We are pleased to have developed this long-term relationship with National Grid to manage the ecologically rare and important Albany Pine Bush habitat within its utility right-of-ways. It is a logical step in our work with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and NYS Department of Environmental Conservation in protecting the Pine Bush Preserve that borders these areas for the Karner blue butterfly and the more than 45 State-designated wildlife Species of Greatest Conservation Need indicative to the Pine Bush. The project is a solid example of public organizations and a private utility coming together for the conservation of one of the most rare habitats in the Northeastern United States,” said Christopher Hawver, executive director of the Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission.

The money is a part of a plan approved by both the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC).

“DEC is pleased to work with National Grid, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission to protect the habitat of these rare and threatened species,” said Kathy Moser, NYS Department of Environmental Conservation’s Assistant Commissioner for Natural Resources. “Government is most efficient when we can work with our public and private partners to maximize our resources to achieve goals for the common good, in this case protecting a globally rare ecosystem while maintaining a reliable electrical grid.”

“The partnership with National Grid and Albany Pine Bush Preserve will make important contributions to the conservation of the endangered Karner blue butterfly in New York State, which is the stronghold for the butterfly’s remaining population in the eastern U.S.,” said David Stilwell, supervisor for the Service’s New York Field Office. “National Grid’s habitat conservation plan is an excellent example of how the Endangered Species Act enables partnerships that help improve habitat for endangered wildlife and contribute to the recovery of species like the Karner blue butterfly.”

 

ALBANY, NY – During the fall and early winter of 2012 wildlife habitat restoration that involves the cutting and removal of large numbers of trees will be ongoing along several roads in the Albany Pine Bush Preserve area. The work is taking place along Old State Road and Kings Road as well as portions of East Lydius Street and Siver Road in the Town of Guilderland and City of Albany, NY.

Christopher Hawver, Executive Director of the Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission said, “The Pine Bush is not naturally characterized by large forests. In order to save this globally-rare ecosystem we have to mimic the naturally-occurring events that created and maintained this unique place over thousands of years. Many plants and wildlife depend on more open, unforested habitats.”

According to Stewardship Director Joel Hecht, “If we leave everything alone and don’t manage protected Pine Bush land it will eventually all become a mature forest. Historically, fire maintained low densities of many types of trees, encouraging native fire-adapted plant species to dominate most of the Pine Bush.”

Wildfires occurred naturally or were set by earlier native peoples and later by colonists in the Pine Bush, but the suppression of fires over many decades has enabled invasive plants to grow more rapidly. Aspen trees, native to this area and black locust trees which are not native, have become overabundant throughout the Preserve due to the absence of frequent fires. Both are clonal species meaning that they spread rapidly through new shoots growing off a continuous root system.

Additionally, their dense closed canopies create a micro climate that is less attractive to important pine barrens wildlife species of concern, including the Federally-endangered Karner blue butterfly and other species like scrub oak, pitch pine, blueberries, and wildflowers. (The Pine Bush is home to more than 45 State-designated Species of Greatest Conservation Need.)

Director Hecht notes, “Once mature aspen and locust trees have taken over an area, they preclude the use of prescribed fires, which are carefully-managed fires set by trained personnel under very controlled conditions and used as a restoration tool. The number of aspen and locust trees must be significantly reduced or eliminated before the habitat can be returned to a true pitch pine/scrub oak pine barrens complete with the rare plants and animals that make this Preserve such a unique place.”

After restoration is complete, aspen trees will continue to be present in the Preserve, although in much smaller numbers. Complete eradication of black locust trees, on the other hand, is a long-term objective of the Commission staff.

For many years the task of removing aspen trees has been accomplished throughout the interior of the Albany Pine Bush Preserve using mechanical techniques including tree “girdling” or peeling off the bark in a strip encircling the tree. Girdling is not appropriate for use near roads or Preserve property boundaries because it results in standing dead trees which will eventually fall which could pose a hazard. In order to remove roadside and boundary aspen and locust, the Commission has contracted with professionals to safely cut and remove these roadside trees. This restores habitat back to pitch pine/scrub oak barrens in a more controlled way along the road edges. Fall and early winter is an ideal time to do this work because birds and other animals are least likely to be harmed by these activities as nesting activities are complete.

Hecht said, “While the changes along the roadsides may at first seem abrupt and unsightly, the long term effect will be a return to the diversity and unique ecology of open pine barrens that once existed. The results will once again bring the beauty of the pine barrens to these parts of the Albany Pine Bush Preserve.”

 

Wendy @ 9:50 am

ALBANY, NY – The Albany Pine Bush Discovery Center will celebrate the Halloween season with a variety of programs and activities for both kids and adults. Designed to be “non-scary,” safe and fun, each program will teach participants about the plants and animals in the globally-rare Albany Pine Bush Preserve.

“The Halloween season is a perfect time to get out into the crisp fall air and explore nature with our experienced team of environmental educators,” said Jeffrey Folmer Discovery Center Director. “Our programs are engaging, exciting and just plain fun whether you’re a kid or an adult.”

The Discovery Center offers programs all year round, both indoors using state-of-the-art exhibits and outdoors on the Discovery Trail and other parts of the 18-mile trail network in the Preserve. Erin Kinal, Education Program Director added, “The Preserve protects a unique inland pine barrens environment with more than 45 State-designated Species of Greatest Conservation Need. People really enjoy their experience here learning about this varied and interesting ecosystem, and we certainly enjoy teaching them.”

The list of Halloween-related events is as follows: CLICK THE LINKS TO SIGN UP

Halloween Howl Prowl – A Howlin’ Good Time!
Friday October 26 and Saturday October 27, 2012, 6:30pm – 8:00pm
The popular annual Howl Prowl will begin inside the Discovery Center with hands-on exploration of Halloween-related topics including skulls, bats, spiders, night time sounds and more. The program continues outdoors for a hike to discover the Pine Bush at night and the evening concludes with savory sweets of cider and donuts.

Discover the Pine Bush in Costume
Sunday October 28, 2012 1:00pm – 2:00pm
Hiking, exploration, and family fun on a fall afternoon. Enjoy a guided hike plus games along the trail. Participants are invited to come in costume!

Full Moon Hike
Monday, October 29, 2012 6:30pm – 8:00pm
Explore the Pine Bush at night with an hour-long hike under the full moon. The hike is approximately one mile long over rolling topography and will include intermittent stops for night vision and sound observations.

Although admission to the Discovery Center is always free, there is a $3 per person or $5 per family fee for programs. Pre-registration is advised as programs often fill up in advance. All programs are “all weather” so appropriate dress is suggested.

Located within New York’s Capital District, the Albany Pine Bush Preserve is one of only twenty inland pine barrens left in the entire world and widely considered to be the best example. The 3,200-acre Preserve is predominantly defined by gently rolling sand dunes that support an extraordinary fire-dependent habitat. Home to more than 45 New York State-designated Species of Greatest Conservation Need, including the federally endangered Karner blue butterfly, this globally-rare ecosystem also offers visitors 18 miles of trails for an assortment of non-motorized recreational opportunities including hiking, jogging, nature study, cross-country skiing, horseback riding, mountain biking, hunting, fishing and canoeing.

The Discovery Center is a state-of-the-art interpretive center that introduces visitors to everything that makes the Preserve rare and adventurous. As the gateway to the Pine Bush, this LEED Gold-certified “green” building transforms a visit to our unique destination into an even more exciting exploration where learning comes naturally through interactive exhibits, the interpretive Discovery Trail, and numerous programs on the ecology, natural history and cultural history of the Pine Bush. Admission to the Discovery Center is free (there is a small fee for programs). The Center is now open DAILY weekdays 9AM-4PM, weekends 10AM-4PM (closed Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day). For more information, visit www.AlbanyPineBush.org or call 518-456-0655.

 

Wendy @ 11:55 am

ALBANY, NY – The Albany Pine Bush Discovery Center announced today that the hours of operation have expanded to accommodate an increasing interest from the public. With the addition of Mondays, the Discovery Center will now be open daily year-round and admission continues to be free.

Discovery Center Director Jeffrey Folmer said, “The decision was made to offer greater access to the growing number of visitors as well as more opportunities for schools and special interest groups to schedule field trips and programs. And frankly, it was just hard to see the look of disappointment on the faces of children and parents who arrived on Mondays. So thanks to the help of both staff and volunteers we will now welcome visitors seven days a week.”

Christopher Hawver, Executive Director of the Albany Pine Bush Commission said, “The Discovery Center’s popularity has grown significantly over its first five years. It’s become an important resource for the community – not just for the outstanding exhibits and educational programs – but also for the options the building provides as a meeting location and learning facility.”

The Discovery Center is a state-of-the-art interactive visitor’s center that serves as the gateway to the globally-rare Albany Pine Bush. As one of only twenty inland Pine Barrens ecosystems remaining in the world (uniquely different from coastal Pine Barrens), the Albany Pine Bush has the distinction of being considered the best remaining example. Through exhibits, an interpretive Discovery Trail, and year-round educational programs for schools, scouts, private groups and the general public, the Discovery Center teaches visitors about the unique ecology, natural history and cultural history of the Pine Bush.

The Discovery Center is a “green” building that features exhibits on its eco-friendly technology and design. Certified by the U.S. Green Building council with a prestigious LEED Gold certification, the building includes solar technology, repurposed and recycled materials, native plant landscaping, outdoor composting toilets, indoor water-and energy-saving restrooms, and more.

The Discovery Center and its meeting rooms are also available for private rental. The facility is used frequently for training sessions, meetings, small conferences, special events, business retreats and private parties.