A bulldozer smooths out a section of the Great Dune after some black locust trees were removed from the Pine Bush Preserve.
Hundreds of invasive trees will be removed from the Pine Bush Preserve before next year, which will dramatically shift the landscape in preparation for a native habitat.
People traveling near the intersection of Washington Avenue Extension and New Karner Road in Albany might notice the skyline opening up at the Albany Pine Bush Preserve. Wildlife habitat restoration efforts started this month at the rare ecosystem involving the removal of black locust trees across 47 acres. Native pitch pine and oak trees will not be removed, and native grasses, wildflowers and wild blue lupine will be planted.
Joel Hecht, stewardship director of the preserve, said estimates put around 300 to 500 black locust trees per acre, so thousands of trees will be removed.
“They don’t belong here, and they are extremely invasive,” said Hecht. “Basically, all these trees do is kill the native pine barren vegetation that was there before.”
Christopher Hawver, executive director of the Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission, said “large, mature forests” do not characterize pine bush habitats. Creating a more open landscape will help foster native wildlife.
“While the changes to this area will at first seem abrupt, the long term effect will be a return to the diversity and unique ecology of open pine barrens that once existed,” Hecht said in a statement.
This is the largest eradication effort the commission has done. More than 250 acres of locust trees have been removed over the past 18 years, with the largest tackled at once previously at 23 acres.
“This particular site is a lot more visible than the other sites have been,” said Hecht.
Once trees are removed, the stumps and roots will be ripped out because the roots could continue to spread the tree if left in place. A bulldozer will then smooth out the site for planting native species.