ALBANY, NY: The September Save the Pine Bush
dinner at the First Presbyterian Church was the setting for a
presentation on alien
and invasive by Steve Rice, PhD. of Union college.
Dr. Rice began by talking about the early efforts to bring
fire back into the Pine Bush ecosystem. The thought was that
if we could
get the Pine Bush to burn, we would eliminate the invasive
species. After the massive fire of 1999 (a controlled burn
for five acres
turned into a fire on 65 acres), the native Pine Bush species
survived quite well.
However, even after the return of fire, there are still problems
with aspen and black locust. Fire cannot take care of the entire
problem of invasive species.
Pine Bush species grow in high light, with very sterile soils
that are low in nutrients. Plant growth in such sterile soils
by nitrogen. Nitrogen is important to plants. If you add nitrogen
to the soil, the number of species of plants decreases.
Invasive species influence the ecological community. Big
tooth or quaking aspen grow in dense stands, and grow by root
They shade out native plants. Cutting down the aspen will only
cause the aspen to grow back by sprouting from the roots; girdling
will kill the aspen.
Black locust are a more complex problem. They spread rapidly
and inject nitrogen into the ecosystem. Black locust deposit
the amount of nitrogen into the soil than from other sources
of pollution. Even if the black locust trees are removed, the
is still in the soil.
Black locust are very resistant to being removed. Girdling
black locust only causes them to re-sprout. Proscribed burns
do not remove
black locust. Originally, black locust trees were spread by
people. People planted the trees in the barn yard because they
are a good
quality wood, and would resprout when harvested. It was customary
in Vermont to give newlyweds a black locust tree. In the midwest,
people planted black locust to have wood for caskets.
Fully 15% of the Pine Bush is now occupied by black locust
Dr. Rice and his students’ research objective was to
evaluate the consequence of soil modification by black locust
Students collected leaf litter at certain sites with both
native pitch pine/scrub oak communities and black locust stands.
Dr. Rice examined old photos of the Pine Bush from 1940 and
1952 to determine areas that were occupied by pitch-pine
communities. Sites chosen to study contained pitch pine/scrub
oak which were adjacent to black locust communities where
evidence indicated that the black locust stands were the
result of recent
invasion of a pine-oak community.
Within each site, paired pine-oak and black locust vegetation
plots were located. An analysis of the soil nutrients,
litter, and determination of composition and structure
of the plants was done. For each site, a determination
of the last
fire was conducted.
What Dr. Rice discovered is that black locust trees put
a massive amount of nitrogen in the soil. Black locust
put in 200
times the amount of nitrogen into the soil than is
usually found in the
Currently, the Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission
is doing a whole-scale removal of black locust trees
155 and Washington Avenue Extension. This includes
mechanical removal of the trees, and then raking
the sand with huge
to remove the roots from the soil.
After the mechanical removal takes place, native
Pine Bush species will be planted. The area will
monitored for loss of native