Albany, New York’s Pine Bush has been designated a National Natural Landmark (NNL) due to its presence as an outstanding example of a globally rare ecosystem. Joining 596 other such sites around the country, a National Natural Landmark is labelled as such because it is the best remaining example of a specific biological or geological features or a set thereof. The Pine Bush is one of the world’s best exemplifications of an inland pine barren system supporting 1300 species of plants, 156 species of birds, more than 30 species of mammals, and 20 species of amphibians and reptiles as well as providing habitat for the Karner blue butterfly.
The Albany Pine Bush Preservation Commission consists of many private and public entities which all work together to preserve, manage and operate the Pine Bush Preserve. The largest of only about 20 other inland Pine Barrens ecosystems, the Pine Bush Preserve was formed near the end of the last ice age; between 12 and 15,000 years ago. During that time a huge glacial lake was present, reaching from present day Glen Falls to Newburgh, NY; over time the water drained leaving a large sandy deposit, the soils of which forms the foundation of Pine Bush. Unfortunately only a fraction of the original ecosystem remains, fractured and destroyed by infrastructure and amenities.
The open areas available in the inland pine barrens provide ideal growing conditions for the wild blue lupine which is crucial to the survival of the above mentioned, Karner blue butterfly, federally listed as endangered. Another insect species depends on this rare ecosystem; the inland barrens buckmoth’s life cycle is critically linked to the scrub oaks found here. The eastern hognose snake and the spade foot toad are also inhabitants and dependents of the Pine Bush.
The designation as a National Natural Landmark will help in the conservation of this extraordinary ecosystem. The NNL program is administered by the National Park Service; the service reports on the condition of NNL, acts as an advocate for the protection of designated sites, and raises public awareness of our Nation’s natural heritage. The designation of an NNL does not take land ownership type into consideration, operating under the assumption that partnership with public and private landowners allows for information sharing and cooperative, iterative problem solving which will lead to the conservation of outstanding sites that illustrate the rich diversity and value of the country’s natural landscape.