Pine Bush Unique Area
The Pine Bush is the only sizable
inland pine barrens sand dunes in the United States, and
is recognized world-wide as a unique pine barrens ecosystem.
It contains over 300 species of vertebrate animals, over
1,500 species of plants, and over 10,000 species of insects
and other invertebrate animals. Many of them are rare
and restricted to the Pine Bush habitat. Its most famous
occupant, the Karner Blue Butterfly, is on the Federal
and State's endangered species list.
Pine Bush has played an important historical role in
the development of Albany and Schenectady and is enshrined
in the literary heritage of the United States. The Song
of Hiawatha by William Wadsworth Longfellow is sung
by the Indian brave from the Vale of Tawasentha located
in the Pine Bush. George Washington wrote of the Pine
Bush in his diaries while traveling in upstate New York
during the Revolutionary War. In Moby Dick, Herman Melville
describes the dark beauty of the Pine Bush in a long
account of a stage coach ride from Albany to Schenectady.
Vladimir Nabokov and other writers have written about
the mystery and beauty of the Pine Bush.
Native American artifacts abound in
the Pine Bush at many sites. Over the years, many have
been found, including this stone wood scraper used for
hollowing out wood for such things as dug-out canoes.
However, little or no excavation or reasearch has been
done on these sites. This artifact was found by John
Wolcott in Guilderland.
The formation of Albany Pine Bush
is an ancient story; here, the tale of the Ice Age is
written in the landscape for all to read. When the last
glacier in New York receded 15,000 years ago, its melting
waters created a massive lake that contained deposits
of glacial sand. The lake drained and winds swept the
glacial sand into dunes. The Albany Pine Bush’s
unique plants colonized the sand dunes, stabilizing
the soil and creating the gently rolling sand plain
we see today.
The Albany Pine Bush is one of the
most endangered landscapes in the northeastern United
States. Today, less than 6,000 acres remain. As part
of a community-based partnership, The Nature Conservancy
has helped protect more than 2,940 of those acres.
The Pine Bush is important because
of its outstanding biological significance. Characterized
by well-drained sandy soils and open areas, it hosts
a variety of rare plant and animal species. For example,
its open areas present ideal conditions for wild blue
lupine, a beautiful wildflower which is critical to
the survival of the federally endangered Karner blue
butterfly. The scrub oaks of the Pine Bush are also
important in the survival of another rare insect called
the Inland barrens buckmoth. Aside from these two insects,
the Pine Bush supports many other species of wildlife
including the eastern hognose snake and spadefoot toad.
In preserving the Pine Bush, we have the opportunity
to protect a rare environment for the unique species
it supports as well as for the enjoyment of people for
years to come.
In 1988, the New York State Legislature
created the Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission to
protect and manage the unique and endangered natural
communities and species of the Albany Pine Bush for
ecological, recreational, and educational benefits.
The Commission consists of the New York State Department
of Environmental Conservation, the New York State Office
of Parks Recreation and Historic Preservation, The Nature
Conservancy, the Town of Colonie, the Town of Guilderland,
the City of Albany, Albany County, and four private
citizens appointed by the Governor. To date, a patchwork
of 3,010 acres of the Pine Bush Preserve have been protected
through the cooperative efforts of the Commission.
While the Albany Pine Bush provides
a special habitat for many plants and animals, it also
provides visitors with an assortment of non-motorized
recreational opportunities including hiking, jogging,
nature study, cross-country skiing, horseback riding,
mountain biking, and hunting. Thousands of people visit
the Albany Pine Bush Preserve each year for outdoor
recreation, research, ature study and respite. The preserve
positively and significantly contributes to the quality
of life in the municipalities it crosses. Its 3,010
acres of protected Pine Bush land are a cherished resource
to local communities.