Albany Pine Bush News

NEW RESEARCH BY A LOCAL SCIENTIST PREDICTS THINNING FORESTS TO CONSERVE RARE WILDLIFE ALSO REDUCES WILDFIRE RISK:
Commission invites the public to view habitat work

ALBANY, NY – Thinning pitch pine forests to improve wildlife habitat will reduce the chances for dangerous, uncontrolled tree-top fires in the Albany Pine Bush Preserve, according to new research. The paper, titled Predicted Crown Fire Risk Adds Incentive to Restore Open-Canopy Pine Barrens at the Wildland-Urban Interface, was published in a January 2015 special issue of the Journal of Sustainable Forestry devoted entirely to the fire ecology of the Northeast.

Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission Conservation Director Neil Gifford is one of the paper’s authors, along with scientists from Oklahoma State University and the Tall Timbers Research Station and
Land Conservancy in Tallahassee, Fla. The authors were invited to submit the paper for publication following a lecture Gifford presented at a 2014 fire ecology conference at Yale University. According to Gifford, creating open-canopied pitch pine-scrub oak barrens and reducing wildfire risk have restored more than 1,500 acres and increased the Preserve’s population of the endangered Karner blue butterfly to more than 14,000. Other rare wildlife listed by the state Department of Environmental Conservation as Species of Greatest Conservation Need, including the eastern bluebird and American woodcock, also appear to be improving in restored habitat.

As a result of Gifford’s research, 85 acres of pitch pine forest in the Preserve are being thinned this winter, says Joel Hecht, Stewardship Director of the Pine Bush Preserve. Due to wildfire suppression and historical agricultural activities, parts of the Preserve no longer resemble the unique landscape it once was. Hecht and his stewardship team will be thinning crowded pitch pine trees along with some other tree species, which will allow important pine barrens plants and animals to flourish.

The tree thinning will be completed during the winter of 2015 in the Madison Avenue Pinelands area (Trailhead # 7) of the Preserve. This work is being done during the winter months in order to minimize disruption to wildlife and avoid the breeding season.

For safety reasons, recreational trails in this area of the Preserve will be temporarily closed from Jan.
5 to Apr. 1 while the trees are being removed. The Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission Education Department is offering special guided tours of the site. Anyone interested in learning more about the project can sign up for a tour by calling 518-456-0655 or through www.AlbanyPineBush.org/Events.

Once tree thinning is complete, prescribed burning will be used to restore and maintain the pine barrens vegetation that is currently being shaded out by pitch pine and hardwood trees.

According to Commission Executive Director Christopher Hawver, the research illustrates how the Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission is increasingly recognized as a regional and national leader in ecological restoration and fire management.

For more information on all Preserve management activities, one can visit www.AlbanyPineBush.org or the Pine Bush Discovery Center on New Karner Road in Albany, or call (518) 456-0655.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION ON THE PINE BUSH:
The 3,200 – acre Albany Pine Bush Preserve (APBP), located in New York’s Capital District, protects one of the best remaining inland pitch-pine scrub oak barrens in the world. This extraordinary fire-dependent habitat provides homes for many plants and animals and contains 55 New York State-designated wildlife Species of Greatest Conservation Need, including the federally endangered Karner blue butterfly. The Preserve is a National Natural Landmark, a New York State Unique Area, Bird Conservation Area and a National Audubon Society Important Bird Area. Characterized by rolling sand dunes and miles of trails, the Preserve offers visitors many recreational opportunities including hiking, bird watching, cross-country skiing, horseback riding, mountain biking, hunting, fishing and canoeing. The Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission is a public-private partnership created by the NYS Legislature in 1988 to protect and manage the APBP and provide the public with educational and recreational opportunities.

As the gateway to the Pine Bush, the Discovery Center is a state-of-the-art “green” certified interpretive center where visitors come to understand why the Pine Bush is rare and special. A visit to this unique destination is an exciting exploration where learning comes naturally through interactive exhibits, an outdoor Discovery Trail, and numerous programs on the ecology, natural history, cultural history and management 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 and most holidays 10am-4pm. For more information, visit www.AlbanyPineBush.org or call 518-456-0655.

Wendy @ 12:17 pm
Feb
10
2015

The Beast is Back!

IMG_0323Since our wildlife camera trapping program began in 2012 the Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission has been following a female white-tailed deer affectionately referred to as Beast. She was tagged and collared by DEC wildlife biologist Karl Parker in 2002 and at that time was aged at 2 1/2 years. That means that when we spotted her with her herd on our camera again this December she was approaching at least 15 years old! Although her collar, the frequency of which was 666 leading to her nickname, is no longer broadcasting and her ear tags have long since fallen off, she is still going strong!

ALBANY NY – The Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission will be offering programs every day at the Discovery Center for the week of February 16th – 20th. “If you’re looking to get out of the house during school vacation week, come check out one of our exceptional programs,” said Sara Poggi Environmental Educator and Public Program Coordinator. “The theme for the week is “Environmental Leaders.” We have programs scheduled for all ages with both indoor and outdoor options if you want to get some fresh air” she added.

“Each program includes a unique opportunity to learn about the globally rare, nationally significant, and locally distinct Albany Pine Bush while drawing upon inspiration from environmental leaders of the past,” said Education Program Director Erin Kinal. Programs include Wonder Walk on Tuesday inspired by writer, scientist and ecologist Rachel Carson and Animal Behavior Study on Friday inspired by Nobel Prize laureate and animal behaviorist Niko Tinbergen. “Whether it’s your first time visiting us or your one hundredth, our new mid-February programs offer a great chance to come to the Discovery Center and learn something new about the Pine Bush.” continued Kinal.

Programs are $3 per person/$5 per family (children under 5 years free). Pre-registration is required for all programs. The Discovery Center is located at 195 New Karner Road in Albany. To sign up for any of these programs, please visit www.AlbanyPineBush.org and click on “Events Calendar” at the top of the page or call 518-456-0655.

The 3,200 – acre Albany Pine Bush Preserve (APBP), located in New York’s Capital District, protects one of the best remaining inland pitch-pine scrub oak barrens in the world. This extraordinary fire-dependent habitat provides homes for many plants and animals and contains 55 New York State-designated wildlife Species of Greatest Conservation Need, including the federally endangered Karner blue butterfly. The Preserve is a National Natural Landmark, a New York State Unique Area, Bird Conservation Area and a National Audubon Society Important Bird Area. Characterized by rolling sand dunes and miles of trails, the Preserve offers visitors many recreational opportunities including hiking, bird watching, cross-country skiing, horseback riding, mountain biking, hunting, fishing and canoeing. The Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission is a public-private partnership created by the NYS Legislature in 1988 to protect and manage the APBP and provide the public with educational and recreational opportunities.

As the gateway to the Pine Bush, the Discovery Center is a state-of-the-art “green” certified interpretive center where visitors come to understand why the Pine Bush is rare and special. A visit to this unique destination is an exciting exploration where learning comes naturally through interactive exhibits, an outdoor Discovery Trail, and numerous programs on the ecology, natural history, cultural history and management 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 and most holidays 10am-4pm. For more information, visit www.AlbanyPineBush.org or call 518-456-0655.

###

Feb
04
2015

An Unlikely Pair

APB Deer Fisher2The Commission’s wildlife camera trapping resumed this winter and we are already getting some interesting results! So far, our data suggest that the Albany Pine Bush Preserve supports a variety of generalist mammals that can be found throughout the Preserve in both restored barrens and forests. Even fisher, a species once thought to be restricted to large tracts of northern forests, venture into restored pitch-pine scrub-oak barrens. This January, we were lucky enough to capture a picture of two animals that share habitat in the Pine Bush but are rarely seen together. A white-tailed deer was foraging in front of a camera when a fisher walked by. The fisher seemed to take no notice of the deer but the deer seemed intrigued by the fisher. The two parted ways without incident giving us a rare glimpse of an interaction between these two species.

Wendy @ 12:17 pm