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Ecological Van Tour Makes Stop In Albany's Pine Bush

Sean O'Brien (left) and Chris Hawver (right)
Lucas Willard
Sean O'Brien (left) and Chris Hawver (right)

Albany’s Pine Bush Preserve got a visit Thursday from a scientific data company that has worked to help conservation groups protect endangered species and ecosystems.

In the parking lot of the Albany Pine Bush Discovery Center, Sean O’Brien shows off his fully-loaded van, complete with a bed, room for his bicycle, and an outdoor shower…

“Funny thing is I was trying to dry my shower curtain…”

But O’Brien isn’t here to camp. The president of a data company called NatureServe, O’Brien is on the 11th stop of his tour of Natural Heritage Areas to learn about how local organizations are working to conserve natural areas, and to find ways they can better work together.

“NatureServe is not the organization that goes out and buys land and preserves it. We provide the data and the information that allows the people that are doing that to know what to buy. So land trust alliances, nature conservancy organizations like that use your data all the time,” said O’Brien. “So in order to tell a story of why collecting data are important, I am traveling around to the Natural Hertiage programs in the United States and Canada to see what they do on the ground and to visit, in person, endangered species.”

The unique habitat of the Pine Bush has O’Brien especially interested in one creature:

“The one that I’m particularly interested in today is the Karner Blue Butterfly.”

After a short tour of the Pine Bush Preserve’s interpretive center, Pine Bush Preserve Commission Conservation Director Neil Gifford led O’Brien and other naturalists on a tour of just some of the preserve’s 3,350 acres. Gifford stopped at a small plant, the wild blue lupine, which is vital to the butterfly’s life cycle.

“That’s the plant. That is the sole food plant for Karner Blue Butterfly caterpillars and Frosted Elfins. So Karner Blue caterpillars feed on the leaves, predominantly…”

Pine Bush Preserve Commission Executive Director Chris Hawver was happy to see O’Brien make a stop in Albany to view the urban landscape that has benefitted from years of management.

“I think it’s great, I mean we’re always happy to host people, to show off what the Pine Bush is all about and experience what we have and especially see a lot of the habitat work that we’ve done. We’ve done a lot of habitat work over the last 30 years, certainly to the great benefit of the Karner, basically recovered the butterfly here...”

By way of disclosure, the Pine Bush Preserve has been a WAMC underwriter.

For more information visit: https://www.natureserve.org/

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