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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.

The 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.

Specifics on visiting the Pine Bush Unique Area were correct at time of publication. We would suggest that you confirm dates and times prior to your visit.
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