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Photo by K. Russell

January 2016 Pine Bush Post

Globally Rare, Nationally Significant, and Locally Distinct

As usual, we have more news to share than we can fit into one newsletter, but we hope to keep you up-to-date this year with monthly information on the important work ongoing at this globally-rare, nationally significant and locally distinct preserve. You can delve deeper by following us on Facebook, Twitter and our website.
Don't forget to scroll down to learn more about the exciting events and programs that are upcoming - including opportunities for you to get involved in Pine Bush research - as well as how to join the Friends of the Pine Bush Community.

Big news in the Pine Bush…

Prescribed Fire (Rx Fire).  Fire Management and GIS Specialist Tyler Briggs coordinated another year and another record broken. In 2015 we successfully applied prescribed fire to 217 acres over eight burns, exceeding the record 208 acres set in 2014. This marks the second consecutive year we have achieved the fire management goal of safely applying prescribed fire to 200 acres of the Preserve.
Fire Management & GIS Specialist Tyler Briggs on a November 2015 prescribed fire in the Preserve.

Get involved…

Snow Pack Monitors Needed
We’re looking for neighbors that live within half a mile of the Preserve to help track changing weather patterns by measuring the depth of snow in their own backyard. On Sunday, January 10 from 2-3pm come to the Discovery Center to learn how to collect and submit measurements.
 
Regionally, climate change is altering seasonal weather patterns, especially temperature and precipitation, but little is known about specific changes in the Preserve. We’re asking neighbors to help fill this knowledge gap by inviting them to participate in a citizen-science project to document snow depth around the Preserve. Click here to read more. Click here to sign up.

In our community…

Pine Bush Perspectives Photo Exhibit.  We held our second Pine Bush Perspectives Photo Exhibit November 1, 2015 – January 2, 2016. A total of 41 people entered 111 photos. From those photos the judges had the difficult job of choosing the 30 photos that appeared in the show. At the exhibit opening on November 1st five awards were presented. The judges of the exhibit also gave a brief overview of all of the entries and explained how they made their selections and presented the awards. First place was awarded to Kat Fitzpatrick for her photo Bright Fences – Dark Storm. Justin Scott was awarded second place for his photo Dragonfly Eyes. The Budding Talent award was given to Jeremy Collison the photographer of the best photo taken by someone under the age of 18 and honorable mentions were awarded to Noami King and Angel Rios. There were about 70 people in attendance at the opening.
Visitors to the exhibit were invited to vote for their favorite photo and we are excited to announce the winner of the People’s Choice Award, Jason Matheron for his photo Hungry for Milkweed. Thank you to all of the participants for sharing your perspective through photos!
Lupine



The Friends of the Pine Bush Community have a new and improved website. Go to PineBushFriends.org to see how you can participate in activities that contribute to stewardship and appreciation of the unique natural communities found in the Albany Pine Bush Preserve.

Visit the Pine Bush…

Public Programs. Our new booklet that contains listings of public programs offered at the Pine Bush from January to June 2016 is available. Stop by the Discovery Center to pick one up and attend one of the upcoming public programs at the Preserve! You can still see all of our programs online too at www.AlbanyPineBush.org/events
 
DiCaprio to Hunger Kill Trail.  A new trail linking Guilderland’s DiCaprio Park with the Hunger Kill trail system has been opened with installment of a 33’ bridge. The bridge was constructed in a single span using laminated structural wood called glulams. Now all Preserve lands south of the Thruway, and west of Route 155 are interconnected and accessible via official marked trails.

Happening on the ground…

Pitch Pine Thinning Winter 2015-16.  For the first time during the winter of early 2015, we began thinning 85 acres of pitch pine, converting the Madison Avenue Pinelands portion of the Preserve from an area of closed canopy pitch pine forest to open pine barrens. NYS Department of Environmental Conservation foresters cruised and marked the timber and a contractor began harvesting the trees. Work will be completed during the winter of 2015-16. Tree thinning is critical to restoring and maintaining inland pitch pine scrub oak barrens and reducing the potential for dangerous wildfire.
This sign is posted at the Madison Avenue Pinelands trailhead to alert visitors and help them find other places to enjoy the Pine Bush.
Harvesting for Habitat. Why are the pine trees being cut down in the Madison Avenue Pinelands region of the Preserve? Come find out why at this program on January 23rd at 1pm! We will hike approximately one mile to view the habitat restoration work. We will meet at the Madison Avenue Pinelands trailhead (#7). Ages 15+. Free! Click here to register and get directions. Pre-registration is required for all events.

Our expert staff…

Advancing Expertise.  Our Fire Management Specialist, Tyler Briggs, traveled with seasonal Fire Technicians Dan Tuthill and Nathan Wenzel to the NYSDEC Wildfire and Incident Management Academy in October. They attended Fire behavior, fireline leadership, and hands on firefighting classes. Tyler worked as a Burn Boss Trainee on the ‘Line Road East Training Fire’ (10 acres). We also partnered with NYSDEC Forest Rangers in instructing a wildland firefighting course in the Preserve. .
Fall Environmental Education Internship by Ellyn Fisher
Hello! This fall I had an internship with the Albany Pine Bush Preserve. When I first started I didn’t know much about the Pine Bush and was eager to learn as much as I could. I was able to help out at Smokey Bear Day, see what the fire crew does, shadow school programs with education staff, learn how to care for the animals, learn what the stewards do for the Preserve, and much more. I was glad I got to meet all of the staff. Everyone is so nice and enthusiastic; you can tell they truly love their jobs and what they are doing for the Pine Bush. I learned so much over the past few weeks and I’m so thankful for the opportunity.

Our latest research…

Northern Saw-whet Owl banding.  Our science staff are evaluating the viability of a new fall research project. Project Owlnet was founded in 1994 and supports a large network of North American migrant owl banding stations. Through standardized protocols, Project Owlnet seeks owl migration information, specifically the nomadic migration patterns of the Northern Saw-whet. The status of the Saw-whet in the Preserve during the winter months is completely unknown. Designated both an Important Bird Area and a Bird Conservation Area, the Preserve may be a haven for owls during migration and/or winter. Science staff piloted the project on two nights this fall, operating a banding station bated with owl recordings. Not only did they successfully capture a hatch-year female Northern Saw-whet Owl, but that lone owl was already banded two weeks earlier in Williamstown, Massachusetts. 
Hatch-year female Northern Saw-whet Owl captured in the Albany Pine Bush Preserve.

Momentous occasions…

SAVE THE DATE! Lupine Fest 2016 will be held on Saturday, May 14, 2016.

Executive Director Christopher Hawver and City of Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan greeted visitors with our Karner blue butterfly mastcot.
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