What's new in your Pine Bush Preserve?
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Photo by K. Russell

February 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…

You can help protect the Pine Bush!
The Friends of the Pine Bush Community are partnering with the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy to protect additional property for dedication to the Albany Pine Bush Preserve. Your donation to the Land Protection Campaign will make this possible.
 
Please click here for more information on how you can make a contribution.
For more information about the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy please visit MohawkHudson.org

Get involved…

Frog Watch Info Session
February 24 at 7pm

It may be hard to believe right now but soon the spring chorus will fill your ears: spring peepers, wood frogs and maybe even some spadefoot toads! For over 15 years, citizen scientists have been reporting data on calling frogs and toads to Frog Watch, a citizen science program of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Join us this evening for an information session about this amazing program and how you can participate by listening to the frogs and toads calling in your own backyard. Ages 15+. Free! Pre-registration is required for all events. Click here to register.

In our community…

Give your feedback to help improve our prescribed fire program.
In preparation for our 2016 prescribed fire activities we’re conducting a short survey regarding our prescribed fire program. We value your input and your time.
Please click here to complete the survey and help us improve our program.
If you would like to be notified when we conduct prescribed fires, please contact us at 518-456-0655, Ext 1220.  You will be added to our notification list. We also post information on www.Facebook.com/AlbanyPineBush each day that we burn.

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
 
School Vacation Week Programs: Winter Survival in the Pine Bush
We will be offering programs at the Discovery Center during the upcoming school break February 15-19.  â€œIf you’re looking to learning something new about animals and enjoy some time outside come to one of these exceptional programs,” said Sara Poggi-Decker Education Program Manager. “The theme for the week is Winter Survival in the Pine Bush.”
Click here for more information and to sign up. 
 

Happening on the ground…

Mechanical management.  Mowing began in October on approximately 130 acres with 38 acres completed during December. Mowing has taken place along Old State Road as well as in the Great Dune and Blueberry Hill regions of the Preserve to prepare these sites for prescribed fire in 2016. Invasive plants in these areas will also be eliminated over the next several years now that the areas are more accessible. The final goal is to restore these sites back into pitch pine - scrub oak barrens.
All of this mowing work has taken place using a powerful fecon mower that can mow vegetation up to eight inches in diameter.
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 February 28th 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…

A new face at the Discovery Center. We welcomes Jorel Spain as the newest team member. Jorel is part of our Visitor Services Staff on Sundays providing visitors with Preserve and Center information. He is a graduate of Hudson Valley Community College achieving an Associate’s Degree in Environmental Science and is currently enrolled as a full-time Wildlife Management student at the State University of New York (SUNY) at Cobleskill. He is excited to take an active conservation role and is very interested in reptiles and amphibians. Jorel has also worked as an environmental educator for agencies such as Five Rivers, the Children’s Museum of Science and Technology and Grafton Lakes State Park.
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Our latest research…

Southern Pine Beetle.  The southern pine beetle (SPB) is an insect native throughout southeastern pine forests that appears to be expanding its range in response to a warming climate and abundant resources. SPB seems to become problematic in unnaturally dense and fire-suppressed pine stands. It is now widespread in Long Island’s Central Pine Barrens where is it is killing whole stands of pitch pine. SPB have also been documented at the Montague pitch pine barrens in western Massachusetts, as well as sites in Connecticut and in the southern Hudson Valley. As a result of devastating effects on Long Island, Commission science staff have begun working with NYSDEC to monitor SPB traps here. Traps were checked every two weeks throughout the summer, with samples collected, frozen and delivered to NYSDEC for analysis. To date no southern pine beetle have been detected in the Preserve. Sampling in 2016 is anticipated since the arrival of SPB here seems all but certain. Based on extensive research throughout its southern range, prescribed fire, supplemented with mechanical thinning of closed canopy pitch pine forests will continue, to increase the resiliency of APB pitch pine to SPB and other potential threats associated with changing climate. Maintaining healthy individuals and populations of pitch pine, as well as other fire dependent/adapted plants, is likely the best strategy to ensure long-term persistence of the barrens ecosystem.
Bats. Bats are incredibly important wildlife, but little is known about species in the Pine Bush. As a result of the dramatic decline of many bat species due to White Nose Syndrome, as well as preserve management practices to restore forest to globally-rare inland pitch pine - scrub oak barrens, the NY Field Office of the US Fish and Wildlife Service awarded the Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission funding to conduct a first of its kind acoustic bat survey in the preserve. Between July 22 and 29, Vesper Environmental, assisted by our science staff conducted acoustic surveys for bats at 10 sites (23 site nights). One thousand eight hundred forty (1,840) electronic files were identified as bat calls using computer software. Five species were likely to be present on at least one site night including: big brown bat, red bat, hoary bat, little brown bat, and silver haired bat.

Momentous occasions…

SAVE THE DATE!
Lupine Fest 2016 will be held on
Saturday, May 14, 2016.
Join your neighbors at a celebration of the Capital Region’s globally rare, nationally significant, and locally distinct Albany Pine Bush. This year the festival honors not only the wild blue lupine and its importance to the conservation of several endangered butterflies but the entire Pine Bush ecosystem.

A fun day of music by The Refrigerators, games, crafts, snacks and more will reveal what a unique and special place it is! All ages. Free!
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