MHLC Partners with Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission

Land acquired in 2019 expands the Albany Pine Bush Preserve. Photo courtesy of Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission.

The Albany Pine Bush Preserve is one of the last remaining inland pine barrens on earth. It is a place that might remind the casual observer of Cape Cod or Long Island, yet it is located in the midst of the Capital District–far from the coasts that people usually associate with these environments. Sand dunes, pitch pine trees, and a fire-adapted natural community are a few of the distinctive elements that contribute to this unique natural landmark.

The Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission (APBPC) is a public-private partnership created by the NYS Legislature in 1988 to protect and manage this unique natural environment and provide the public with educational and recreational opportunities at the Preserve. The Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy works with the Commission as a partner to further the conservation goal of protecting the pine barren’s unique and sensitive habitat preserve. Historically, Commission partners such as The Nature Conservancy, MHLC, and other members of the Preserve Commission worked to add property to the preserve through a cooperative agreement with the Commission. Under new 2018 legislation guidelines, the Commission is now able to acquire land directly, and MHLC continues to work as a partner in support of APBPC and their land protection efforts. 

The Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy is pleased to partner with the Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission in support of the ongoing expansion of the Albany Pine Bush Preserve. The Pine Bush is one of the most unique ecological features of the Capital District and is one of the most successful examples of effective public/private partnerships to address environmental issues.

28+ Acres Added!

Photo Courtesy of the Albany Pine Bush Preserve.

Recently, the Commission announced two new properties that have brought the total protected acreage of the Albany Pine Bush Preserve to more than 3,350 acres. The first 7.2-acre property acquired by the APBPC was donated by the Cirillo Family Partnership to the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy. The Cirillo family owned the land for many years and they were determined to add their acreage to the ecologically-unique National Natural Landmark. The donated property is located on Albany Street in the Town of Colonie and adjoins land owned by The Nature Conservancy. MHLC has subsequently donated this property to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation for dedication to the Albany Pine Bush Preserve. This is the first property ever donated by an individual to the preserve for permanent habitat protection since the APBPC was established.  The Friends of the Pine Bush Community (Friends) contributed funding for this protection effort through its Land Protection Fund to help defray MHLC’s acquisition costs. The second 20.9-acre property was purchased directly by the Commission using its new ability to directly acquire real property from those wishing to add their land to the preserve.

The Ecological Significance of the Albany Pine Bush Preserve

The 3,350-acre Albany Pine Bush Preserve (APBP), located in New York’s Capital District, protects one of the best remaining inland pitch-pine scrub oak barrens in the world. This globally rare habitat is fire-dependent, which means that many plants directly depend on the conditions only fire can create and maintain. The highly diverse landscape also features rolling sand dunes that provide homes for a wide array of biodiverse species from Eastern hog-nosed snakes to Prairie Warblers. The Blue Lupine is the signature plant of the Albany Pine Bush Preserve and serves as the food source for the caterpillars of the federally endangered Karner blue butterfly, which makes its home in the Pine Bush. A variety of rare plants and animals, including 78 New York State-designated wildlife Species of Greatest Conservation Need, also exist in this unique habitat. The APBP is a National Natural Landmark, Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area Site, a New York State Unique Area and Bird Conservation Area, and a National Audubon Society Important Bird Area.  

The Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission continues to work towards its conservation goal of expanding the preserve to 5,380 acres as outlined in the 2017 Management Plan Update, and with MHLC as a partner. In the coming years, an additional 38 acres of Pine Bush land conserved by MHLC will be transferred through New York State to be dedicated to the Albany Pine Bush Preserve.

Additional information can be found on the Albany Pine Bush Preserve website.

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