The property is expected to support these butterflies by providing habitat for breeding, feeding, sheltering and range expansion. The land will serve as a dedicated butterfly preserve adjacent to an existing electric transmission line right-of-way owned and operated by National Grid, near Upper Sherman Avenue.
Karner blue butterflies are listed as endangered species federally and statewide. Frosted elfins are listed as threatened statewide. They are considered globally rare and have been extirpated from Canada.
The Karner blue is named for its coloring and discovery in the hamlet of Karner in Albany County more than a century ago. Karner is home to the Albany Pine Bush, where the butterfly still resides.
This conservation easement is part of National Grid’s 50-year habitat conservation plan for the Karner blue that was approved in 2012 by the Fish and Wildlife Service and the state Department of Environmental Conservation. National Grid was required to come up with a habitat plan as part of the incidental take permit it received for activities that disturbed butterfly habitat in the greater Albany area.
“Protecting our rights-of-way in a responsible manner is critical to our ability to deliver energy safely and reliably to thousands of home and business in the region,” said Michael Sherman, National Grid’s principal scientist for its environmental department, in a prepared statement. “We also need to maintain our system in an environmentally responsible way that preserves the ecosystems that are home to species like the Karner blue and frosted elfin butterflies.”
Karner blues are severely restricted as to where they can survive because of their limited diet. Karner blue caterpillars feed only on the leaves while adults feed on the nectar of flowering plants of the low-growing wild blue lupine that favors open areas such as utility corridors.
The conservation easement will be managed by the DEC. Its creation was announced in December.
Photo: A Karner blue butterfly.