ALBANY — The Albany Pine Bush is in the midst of conducting an update to its management plan, which lays out how the 3,200-plus-acre preserve will be managed and protected, along with providing guidelines for public education, outreach, and involvement.
The Pine Bush itself formed at the end of the last ice age, over 20,000 years ago, according to the Albany Pine Bush website. In 1988, according to the site, the state Legislature recognized the significance and importance of the site and created the Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission to protect and manage the houses on the property, and to develop ways in which to use the property for recreational and educational purposes while maintaining the land.
The 1988 legislation creating the Albany Pine Bush Preserve and the Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission states that the Preserve Management Plan be reviewed and, if needed, updated every five years.
In the plan, the vision and goals of the commission are listed:
• Protect and manage an ecologically viable inland pitch pine-scrub oak barrens ecosystem to achieve/maintain the long-term goal of at least 2,000 fire-manageable acres using prescribed burns and other management techniques
• Protect and manage linkages that improve, preserve contiguity and enhance species dispersal
• Protect and manage buffer areas, particularly those that facilitate the commission’s fire management program, and
• Protect and manage significant cultural and natural resources, including Karner blue butterflies and other species of greatest conservation need, water resources, and historic/archeological sites.
The draft update also features extensive lists of the protected lands, plants, and species included on the preserve.
One major threat listed in the draft plan is loss of land due to high development of protected or surrounding areas.
“The most obvious impact of development is the direct loss of natural communities and species’ habitat. This continued incremental loss of undeveloped land makes it increasingly difficult to ensure adequate protection of the land necessary to support natural ecosystem functions in the preserve. Development disrupts wildlife movement/behavior and elevates levels of nutrients and contaminants in the ecosystem. In addition, development results in increased fragmentation of the preserve and increased human population and infrastructure in the areas surrounding the preserve. These factors significantly increase constraints on natural ecosystem functions and effective Preserve management,” says the draft document.
Also reviewed are the community engagement and outreach goals of the commission, which include promotion of the preserve as a community resource, creating appreciation and understanding of the preserve, and engaging people in the support of the work of the commission.
“No substantive changes are proposed in the Draft Management Plan Update to recommendations for preserve protection, management or associated environmental impacts,” said Executive Director Christopher Hawver. “The recommendations in the Draft Plan Update balance environmental and community needs and are based on scientific criteria and over 25 years of experience in managing the Pine Bush Preserve. In updating and developing a reasonable plan we are building on many of our successful partnerships, and the principle that everyone can and should work together to protect and enjoy the benefits of this globally-rare, national, natural landmark.”
A draft of the management plan is available online at www.albanypinebush.org. The comment period for the draft update ends on Friday, Nov. 25. Comments may be provided via email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by standard mail to Management Plan, Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission.