ALBANY, NY – In March 2016, the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area officially designated the Albany Pine Bush as a Heritage Site. The Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission chose the occasion of the 10th anniversary of their annual Lupine Fest to celebrate the high honor by unveiling a new National Park Service Passport Cancellation Station in the Albany Pine Bush Discovery Center.
Christopher Hawver, Commission Executive Director, said, “This important national recognition further substantiates the Albany Pine Bush as a globally-rare treasure with unique geology and ecology. It also gives us an opportunity to focus on the incomparable cultural and historical Hudson River Heritage experience that the Pine Bush provides.”The Albany Pine Bush was selected because of its unique combination of outstanding ecological (pitch pine – scrub oak barrens) features and its rich human history which starts with Native Americans who settled in this area almost 10,000 years ago. The Mohawks and Mahicans sold the furs they harvested from the Pine Bush to Europeans at Fort Orange, present day Albany. Both settlers and Native Americans used the “Mohawk Path” later named the Kings Highway, as a travel corridor through the Pine Bush. For centuries the Albany Pine Bush has provided resources of many different kinds for people. It provided land for farms, sand for glass manufacturing, trees for lumber and posts and was a place for hunting and food gathering.
Mark Castiglione, Acting Executive Director of the Hudson River Valley Greenway and Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area, said, “The Albany Pine Bush Preserve connects people to an amazing and rare ecosystem to educate the public on environmental issues and also provides unique recreational opportunities. The Pine Bush Preserve is a great place for people to learn about natural history, both in the educational center and also along the miles of recreational trails.”
The Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area was designated by Congress in 1996 and is one of the now forty-nine federally-recognized National Heritage Areas throughout the United States. Through a partnership with the National Park Service, Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area collaborates with residents, government agencies, non-profit groups and private partners to interpret, preserve and celebrate the nationally-significant cultural and natural resources of the Hudson River Valley. In this way, they encourage public stewardship for these resources as well as economic activity at the local and regional level. The Heritage Area is managed by the Hudson River Valley Greenway.
To improve awareness of these resources, they have established a network of designated Heritage Sites, classified by theme and amenities. This network helps to better interpret the individual sites and also helps to better interpret the “big picture” story of the entire region and how those individual sites have worked together to shape our national history.
Hawver said, “This prestigious designation, along with the opportunity for the Pine Bush to participate in the National Park Service Passport to Your National Parks program, will draw attention to the remarkable story the Pine Bush has to tell, and its many unfolding layers of amazing facts.” The National Park Service Passports and new Cancellation Station will be located in the Albany Pine Bush Discovery Center Gift Shop.