The Nature Store
Farmers' Mail List
The Pine Bush, located between Albany and Schenectady, NY is an inland pine barrens sand dune containing over 300 species of vertebrates, 1,500 species of plants and over 10,000 species of insects and other invertabrates. Of high importance, it is home to the federally endangered Karner Blue Butterfly. This unique habitat once encompassed 40,000 acres, but due to development, land clearing and fire suppression, has been constrained to only 2,000 acres.
The Karner Blue Butterfly was listed as federally endangered in 1992. Over the past century, their numbers have declined by at least 99 percent. Over 90 percent of this decline has occurred within the last 15 years. Today, Karner Blues occur only in portions of New Hampshire, New York, Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana and Minnesota. Fortunately, Ohio and Ontario, former homes of the Karner Blue, are working on restoration projects to bring this butterfly back to their land.
The reason Karner Blues inhabit the Pine Bush is because Lupine (Lupinus perennis), the Karner Blue caterpillar's only food source, thrives in this habitat. Therefore, the survival of the Karner Blue is directly dependent on the survival of the Lupine. In order for Lupines to succeed in this habitat, fires are needed as a management practice. This is because without fire management, trees and shrubs take over and shade out grass and herbaceous plants (i.e. Lupine). The problem is that most of the area surrounding the Pine Bush of Albany is highly developed, making fire management too risky in those areas. The Save the Pine Bush organization is working to set aside the 50 ft. of land surrounding the Pine Bush necessary for fire management to occur in those places.
Save the Pine Bush, formed in 1978, is an all-volunteer community group dedicated to saving this precious habitat. They are currently working to ensure the purchase of pieces of Pine Bush that are located in-between preserve parcels. The 2,000 acres that remain are dissected by barriers to butterfly dispersal such as roads and buildings and are subject to disturbance by off-road vehicles and horseback riding. The potential success of the Karner Blue would be greatly enhanced if the Pine Bush was a continuous habitat.
Several developments on key Pine Bush land are in the process of being approved. NY residents - please join us in helping Save the Pine Bush preserve what's left of this critical habitat by writing letters to local government officials of the Albany area. For more info, please