Albany Pine Bush News

Eastern Pond HawkPterophoridae Plume MothLast Monday was our second day out this summer.

When working at the vernal pond, we had some interesting organisms in our test waters. The samples had strange flatworms. There were also egg clumps and small water fleas. We also saw many dragonflies, such as the pond hawk. We found a [T-shaped Moth] that we found out was a plume moth [a.k.a. Pterophoridae].

Unnas, Harun, Shreyas & Shenandoah

Blake @ 2:00 pm

APBPC restoration site map 2014ALBANY, NY – During the months of July through December 2014, wildlife habitat restoration involving the removal of invasive, non-native trees will take place on 47 acres in the Albany Pine Bush Preserve near the intersection of Washington Avenue Extension and New Karner Road (Route 155) in Albany.

Christopher Hawver, Executive Director of the Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission said, “The Pine Bush is not naturally characterized by large, mature forests.  In order to save this globally-rare ecosystem we have to restore these forested areas to more open pine barrens habitat.”

Land clearing equipment will remove primarily black locust trees from the Preserve in preparation for spring planting with native grasses, wildflowers and wild blue lupine.  Native pitch pine trees and oak trees will not be removed.  According to Stewardship Director Joel Hecht this project “has the double advantage of not only removing invasive black locust trees from the Preserve, but also providing ideal sites where new pine barrens habitat can be created for the endangered Karner blue butterfly and many other native Pine Bush plants and animals”.

Wildlife habitat restoration work will take place in the portion of the Preserve south of the intersection of New Karner Road and Washington Ave. Ext. with completion expected by December 2014.  Signage will indicate areas of the Preserve that are temporarily closed to the public while this work is taking place.

Black Locust trees are not native to the Pine Bush or the northeast.  These trees are extremely invasive, spreading rapidly wherever they are found.  Currently the 3,200-acre Preserve has over 400 acres dominated by black locust trees that outcompete native species.  Over the past 15 years the Commission has successfully removed over 250 acres of black locust trees and restored these sites back to pine barrens habitat.  Removal of additional black locust trees will continue over the coming years in many portions of the Preserve.

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.  Black locust trees have become overabundant throughout the Preserve due to the absence of frequent fires.  Locust is a  clonal species meaning that it spreads rapidly through new shoots growing off a continuous root system.

Director Hecht notes, “Once mature 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.  Locust trees must be eliminated before the habitat can be returned to a true pitch pine-scrub oak barrens complete with the rare plants and animals that make this Preserve such a unique place.” Hecht continued, “While the changes to this area will at first seem abrupt, 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.”

Located within the Capital District Region, the Albany Pine Bush’s gently rolling sand plain is home to a variety of rare plants and animals, including the Federally-endangered Karner blue butterfly. The 3,200-acre Albany Pine Bush Preserve also creates a special habitat for a number of other rare and unique plants and animals, while providing visitors with an assortment of non-motorized recreational opportunities including hiking, jogging, nature study, cross-country skiing, horseback riding, mountain biking, hunting, fishing and canoeing.

The Albany Pine Bush Discovery Center transforms this globally unique destination into an exciting adventure where learning comes naturally through hands-on activities. As the gateway to the Pine Bush, the Discovery Center introduces visitors to everything that makes the Preserve rare and adventurous. Admission to the Discovery Center is free (there is a small fee for programs). The Center is 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 @ 1:57 pm

Official PortraitAT GILLIBRAND’S URGING, ALBANY PINE BUSH PRESERVE DESIGNATED NATIONAL NATURAL LANDMARK

3,200-Acre Site Supports Significant Geological Landforms, Ecological Habitats and Species, Including the Endangered Karner Blue Butterfly Landmark Status Recognizes Albany Pine Bush Preserve as Natural Heritage Site and Helps Boost Local Tourism

Washington, D.C. – At U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s urging, Albany Pine Bush Preserve, a 3,200-acre nature preserve, received a National Natural Landmark (NNL) designation. Senator Gillibrand sent a letter to U.S. Department of Interior (DOI) Secretary Sally Jewell in September 2013, highlighting the Albany Pine Bush’s unique ecosystem. “The Albany Pine Bush Preserve is a unique sanctuary,” Senator Gillibrand said. “The National Natural Landmark status will help preserve this park for families to hike, bike, fish and explore right here in the Capital Region. This designation will give the Albany Pine Bush Preserve the recognition it deserves.”

“We are so honored to have the Albany Pine Bush be designated as a National Natural Landmark and sincerely appreciate Senator Gillibrand’s effort to pursue this designation for us,” said Christopher Hawver, Executive Director of the Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission.

The Albany Pine Bush Preserve is a significant example of an inland pine barren ecosystem within the Appalachian Plateau and Appalachian Ranges.  The preserve is home to more than 1,300 species of plants, 156 species of birds, 20 species of amphibians and reptiles, more than 30 species of mammals, and world-renowned populations of butterflies and moths – making the preserve a major draw for scientific study, conservation efforts and educational interest.

Senator Gillibrand sent a letter to Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell in September 2013, emphasizing the Albany Pine Bush Preserve’s unique ecosystem – noting that it serves as home to many diverse species of plants and animals, including the federally-listed endangered Karner blue butterfly.

Karner Blue Butterflies in the Discovery CenterALBANY, NY – The Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission invites the public to the Albany Pine Bush Discovery Center for a rare opportunity to view Karner blue butterflies raised for release as part of its effort to recover this endangered species.  The butterflies will be on display at the Discovery Center, located at 195 New Karner Road in Albany, through July 20 and perhaps longer depending on the rate at which they emerge from their chrysalises.

According to Executive Director Christopher Hawver, “This is a shining example of the outstanding work being done by our conservation science team on this globally-rare Preserve. It also showcases how the Discovery Center serves as a public resource connecting people directly to nature and science.”

“This is a very exciting, and very limited chance to see this federally-endangered butterfly,” says Discovery Center Director Jeffrey Folmer.  “One question visitors often ask is ‘Where can I see the Karner blues?’  These beautiful, but tiny butterflies are rare, hard to spot, live only three to five days and are difficult to distinguish from other similar non-endangered butterflies.  We now have 900 of them emerging from their chrysalises one by one and they’re on view until they all emerge.”

After more than 50 years of decline, the Karner blue has returned to former haunts throughout many parts of the 3,200-acre Preserve.  This insect, first studied and named by zoologist and renowned author Vladimir Nabokov in 1944, can now be found at nearly 60 sites covering more than 200 acres of the Preserve.

“Releasing butterflies into newly restored habitat is an important step in getting this iconic species off state and federal endangered species lists”, says the Commission’s Conservation Director, Neil Gifford.  Gifford added, “The captive rearing program is funded by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service New York Field office.  We are incredibly grateful for that support and for the work of the New Hampshire Department of Fish and Game, who raise the butterflies for us at their facility in Concord, New Hampshire.”

According to Gifford, “Wild adult female Karners are captured in the Preserve in June and transported to New Hampshire, where the eggs they produce are raised to chrysalises that are returned to the Commission in July.  The resulting adults emerge at the Discovery Center and are released into the Preserve’s restored habitat”.  In many cases these “new” colonies in fact represent the return of this animal to the very locations where it was once so abundant.  According to Gifford, “we have returned Karners to 19 locations across the Preserve since 2008 and all 19 sites continue to support self sufficient populations”.

The Discovery Center offers numerous changing programs on a monthly basis all year-round.  During the time the butterflies are on view, many of the programs will focus on in-depth explorations of the Karner blue targeted to audiences from pre-k to adults.  Some programs will include an educator bringing butterflies out from the exhibit inside their mesh enclosures, or an even rarer close-up inspection in the wild out on the trails.  Folmer adds, “Neil, his colleagues and his staff have done an amazing job.  There’s more work to be done, but the story of their success to date, the interaction of the butterfly with this globally-rare, fire-dependent habitat, the role of wild blue lupine; it’s all a fascinating tale worth learning about.  We invite you to visit the Discovery Center to learn more about the Karner blue butterfly and the many other remarkable wildlife species that call the Albany Pine Bush Preserve home.” For more information, or to register for a program visit www.AlbanyPineBush.org or call 518-456-0655.

Located within the Capital District Region, the Albany Pine Bush’s gently rolling sand plain is home to a variety of rare plants and animals.  The Albany Pine Bush Preserve also creates a special habitat for a number of other rare and unique plants and animals, while providing visitors with an assortment of non-motorized recreational opportunities including hiking, jogging, nature study, cross-country skiing, horseback riding, mountain biking, hunting, fishing and canoeing.

The Albany Pine Bush Discovery Center transforms this globally unique destination into an exciting adventure where learning comes naturally through hands-on activities. As the gateway to the Pine Bush, the Discovery Center introduces visitors to everything that makes the Preserve rare and adventurous. With the help of many volunteers, the Discovery Center offers numerous programs about the ecology, natural and cultural history of the Pine Bush area.  Admission is free and program fees are $3 per person or $5 per family. The center is open Monday-Friday 9AM-4PM, Saturday and Sunday 10AM-4PM, and on most holidays.

 

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Wendy @ 10:16 am

Whip-poor-will photo by Michael DrummondALBANY- The Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission is seeking citizen scientists to help monitor bird populations in the Albany Pine Bush Preserve. Volunteers who are ages 14 and up can join in on scientific data collection as Commission staff guide them in recording as many eastern whip-poor-wills as possible on the evenings of July 11, 2014 from 7:00pm- 9:30pm and August 11, 2014 from 8:00pm-10:30pm. Participants meet at the Discovery Center at 195 New Karner Road and then divide into groups to head out into the Preserve. For more information or to sign up, visit www.AlbanyPineBush.org or call 518-456-0655. Pre-registration is required for this event.

According to Education Program Director Erin Kinal, “This is a great opportunity for anyone who has an interest in the outdoors to contribute to our scientific research. It doesn’t require any previous experience and all skill levels are welcome. The phrase “citizen scientist” means just that – local citizens who contribute to scientific research.”

Conservation Director Neil Gifford said, “The whip-poor-will is a nocturnal bird that is classified in the family of nightjars (Caprimulgidae). They’re named for the continuous “whip-poor-will” song they sing on spring and summer evenings. During the day, these well-camouflaged birds are hard to see as their gray and brown speckled feathers blend in well with tree bark and leaf litter.”

Gifford continued, “Although eastern whip-poor-wills are still fairly common birds, their numbers have begun to decline and in some parts of their range they have disappeared altogether. Documenting the presence or absence is what makes this citizen science project so important. Local citizens can help us determine if whip-poor-wills are occupying habitat in the Albany Pine Bush Preserve.”

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 55 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 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.

Photo by Michael Drummond

P1100290We, the Jr. Docents of the Discovery Center, spend our summer monday’s monitoring the vernal pond in the Landfill Restoration Area using a variety of techniques. Monday was our first day out this summer.

We got 3 samples of water and did multiple tests with the water to measure oxygen, nitrate, pH, and much more. We also found and identified a bunch of insects, such as a Henry’s Marsh Moth Caterpillar (found on cattails) and the Eastern Tailed Blue Butterfly (one that resembles a Karner Blue Butterfly). Although we did have a slight drizzle in the beginning, it turned out to be a beautiful day at the pond.

Jeremy, Unnas, Harun & Shenandoah

Picture By Jeremy of Henry’s Marsh Moth Caterpillar

Blake @ 2:54 pm