A program of controlled burning in the ecologically
precarious Pine Bush went off without a hitch this fall, and managers
of the preserve are aiming to do more. "We hope they will
get bigger," said Stephanie Gebauer, director of the Albany
Pine Bush Research and Management.
A total of 44 acres of the 1700 acre preserve was burned this
spring and over the last couple of weeks, said Gebauer. The goal
is to eventually burn about 200 acres each year.
Albany Deputy Fire Chief Warren Abriel confirmed the burns were
kept under control and caused no property damage.
The Pine Bush-a patchwork area of scrubby pine (sic) and sandy
soil on the western edge of the city that spills into adjacent
towns- is home to Karner Blue butterfly, an endangered species.
Gebauer said one reason for burning is to create more open space,
which allows the wild blue lupine to grow. The lupine plant is
the sole source of nourishment for the Karner Blue.
The burning this fall started Oct. 28, accounting for 30 of the
total 44 acres burned. Fire-setting crews comprising a dozen or
so volunteers used torches fueled by diesel gasoline mixture to
ignite the fires, Gebauer said. Most of what was burned, she said,
was ground cover- grass, pine needles and low growing plants.
Gebauer said burning aids the germination of some plants because
it weakens their hard outer covering. [Pitch pine cones open during
fires- ed.] Fire tends to "top kill" plant life, scorching
the above-ground growth but leaving the roots intact.