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Big news in the Pine Bush…
Endangered Karner Blue Butterfly Exceeds Federal Recovery Threshold Twenty-five years after being federally listed as endangered, the Albany Pine Bush population of the Karner blue butterfly, an icon of the Capital District’s inland pine barrens, has exceeded recovery goals for the local population, the Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission (Commission) recently announced. Bringing the butterfly one step closer to recovery in New York, the milestone is the result of collaboration by the Commission, the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to protect the best remaining global example of an inland pitch pine-scrub oak barrens. Driven by science, the Commission’s programs of controlled burning, forest thinning, restoration seeding and environmental education have also helped many other rare animals and advanced state and federal efforts to protect pollinators and young forest wildlife.
USFWS Northeast Regional Director Wendi Weber said, “The Albany Pine Bush partners have shown that recovery is possible for the endangered Karner blue butterfly. By managing the barrens for the endangered butterfly, the Commission is bringing along many other types of rare wildlife, including the at-risk spotted turtle, wood turtle and frosted elfin butterfly.”
Photo left: Media and conservation partners tour restored habitat to observe Karner blue butterflies.
Photo right: Noelle Rayman-Metcalf (USFWS – NY Field Office Endangered Species Biologist), Neil Gifford (Commission Conservation Director), Wendi Weber (USFWS Northeast Regional Director)
DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said, “New York is committed to protecting the State’s natural resources and environmental treasures for future generations, including endangered species like the Karner blue butterfly. Collaborative efforts that include science-based habitat management like New York’s Young Forest Initiative and partnerships with the Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are critical to our work restoring endangered species.”
“The Commission is proud of the incredible team of staff, volunteers, and public and private partners that have over many years made it possible for us to advance this species’ recovery and pine barrens restoration in the Albany Pine Bush”, said Commission Executive Director Christopher Hawver.
Commission Conservation Director, Neil Gifford, said “The preserve’s population of Karner blues has grown from less than a thousand in 2007 to more than 15,000 in 2016.” According to Gifford, “2016 was the 4th consecutive year that the preserve’s Karner population exceeded the 3,000 butterfly minimum established in the 2003 federal Karner blue butterfly Recovery Plan.” “Our wildlife data also show that Karner conservation has helped dozens of other pollinating insects, birds, reptiles and amphibians; it is the best indicator that our ecosystem restoration program is making a healthier Pine Bush.”
The quarter-sized Karner blue butterfly was identified in the 1940s by novelist Vladimir Nabokov in the New York hamlet Karner. The USFWS estimates that when the species was protected as endangered 25 years ago, the rangewide population had declined by up to 99 percent. The butterfly depends on the wild lupine plant, which cannot tolerate shade.
To help ensure that Karner blue butterflies persist into the future, the USFWS established 13 federal recovery units across the species’ range, which also includes Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire and Ohio. Within each unit, the USFWS described the number and size of populations thought to be necessary for recovery. The Albany Pine Bush is one of three recovery areas in New York referred to as the Glacial Lake Albany Recovery Unit.
Recovery goals must be met in multiple areas in New York and in other states in order to delist the Karner blue butterfly. Conservation efforts continue in other areas in Saratoga and Warren counties.
Call for submissions! Pine Bush Perspectives: A Juried Photo Exhibit Did you capture a great shot of a butterfly, frame a gorgeous sunset or zoom into the gills of a mushroom?
Each visitor views the Albany Pine Bush from a unique vantage point worthy of celebrating. Share your perspective by submitting photographs taken in the Albany Pine Bush Preserve to our juried exhibit by October 18, 2017.
Entrants may be any age or skill level (beginner, advanced or professional). Jurors will select a diversity of photographs to be included in the final exhibit on December 1st. Three juror-selected awards and one People’s Choice award will be given.
Click below to see the official rules and entry forms or stop by the Albany Pine Bush Discovery Center, 195 New Karner Rd, Albany 518-456-0655
Lunch Talk about the Birds and the Bees … of the Pine Bush! Sooner or later, we all have to talk about the birds and the bees. Guests will have a chance to brush up on the subject matter at a luncheon at the National Register-listed University Club of Albany, 141 Washington Avenue at Dove Street on Friday, August 11 from 12:00 noon – 1:00 p.m.
Amanda Dillon, Field Ecologist for the Albany Pine Bush Preserve, will describe efforts to study and protect the wildlife and insects that live in Albany’s globally-rare inland pine barrens ecosystem. The Club will serve a hot and cold buffet starting at noon with the program commencing at 12:30, followed by a questions and answer session.
The cost for the luncheon and talk is $20, which may be paid at the door, or payment may be made in advance with a credit card at www.universityclubalbany.com. Reservations are required by Wednesday, August 9 and may be made with the links on this page, by calling the Club at 518-463-1151 or by sending an e-mail to [email protected].
This event is presented by the University Club of Albany Foundation, Inc., a 501c3 corporation, and one need not be a member of the University Club to attend. The Foundation was formed to recognize and maintain the unique historic and architectural significance of the National Register-listed University Club building, its historic neighborhood and the city of Albany, where it has been located since its inception in 1901. Support for educational programming presented by the University Club Foundation is provided by AT&T.
TURTLE TIME Want to see a turtle up close (but no touching)? Come to the Discovery Center and meet one of our turtles every Wednesday and Friday during July and August at 2:00pm. Bring your questions and curiosity. All ages. Free! Pre-registration is required by calling 518-456-0655 or visit our Events Calendar.
Chill out in the Karner Classroom this summer!
Browse our nature library
Play a science inspired game
Investigate bio-facts and objects from the preserve
Test drive our new Agents of Discovery App
Visit with one of our live turtles
Create a memento of your experience
For more information about our Karner Classroom, trails and other programs visit the Albany Pine Bush Discovery Center at 195 New Karner Road in Albany or call 518-456-0655.
Happening on the ground…
Summer is in full swing, and some of the ongoing land restoration projects are wrapped up or are nearing completion. The work that had closed down the Great Dune region is finished and the trails in that area have been re-marked, and are open in full! Additionally, the trailhead parking area there will soon be getting some much needed attention with potholes being filled and new gravel laid down.
Our expert staff…
Bee ID workshop. Field Ecologist and Entomologist, Amanda Dillon recently attended a Bee ID workshop conducted by Bryan Danforth, PhD and his lab from the Department of Entomology at Cornell University. The NY Natural Heritage Program and the NYS DEC organized the workshop as part of creating a pollinator conservation plan for New York State. The class came to the Albany Pine Bush to sample bees and participants were impressed with the quality of our habitat and its potential for hosting rare bee species. We hope this is the beginning of many mutual partnerships to continue to study the bee community of the Albany Pine Bush.
Our latest research…
Science Lecture Series: Prescribed Fire in the Albany Pine Bush Preserve Thursday, August 17 at 6:30pm Have you ever wondered how prescribed burns are conducted? What does a prescribed burn look like and what are the steps involved in managing one? Please join us this evening for a presentation about prescribed fire in the Albany Pine Bush. Conducting prescribed burns in an urban area is a challenging task. In this talk, Fire Management Specialist Tyler Briggs will discuss how these controlled burns are conducted in the ‘wildland-urban-interface’. Join us for snacks and discussion at 6:30pm, the lecture will begin at 7:00pm. Ages 15+. Free! Pre-registration is required. Photo above by Jon Monaghan
Citizen Science: Drop-in Common Nighthawk Watch Wednesday, August 23, 5:30pm-7:30pm With a 2-foot wingspan and a habit of feeding in the air near the ground, common nighthawks are easy to spot. Dozens to hundreds of the birds are seen each evening before sunset during migration as they feed over the preserve. A New York State designated Species of Greatest Conservation Need, the common nighthawk is neither common (outside of migration) nor a hawk, and is experiencing declines throughout many parts of its breeding range including New York. We invite you to join us in the Discovery Center parking lot to count common nighthawks flying over Albany Pine Bush Preserve as they continue on their over 6,000-mile southward migration. Feel free to come any time between 5:30pm and 7:30pm and stay as long as you like. Ages 10+. Free! Pre-registration is required.