Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Habitat Preserved For Rare Butterflies

9547454135_a755c9e431_oNational Grid has set aside five acres in Queensbury as a conservation easement for the rare Karner blue and frosted elfin butterflies.

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.

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Mike Lynch is a staff writer and photographer for the nonprofit Adirondack Explorer, the regional bimonthly news magazine with a focus on outdoor recreation and environmental issues. Mike’s favorite outdoor activities include paddling, hiking, fishing and backcountry skiing. In 2011, he paddled the 740-mile Northern Forest Canoe Trail from Old Forge to Fort Kent, Maine. From 2007 until 2014, Mike worked as an outdoors writer and photographer for the Adirondack Daily Enterprise in Saranac Lake. Mike welcomes story ideas and can be reached at

One Response

  1. Conservation Easements: A Powerful Tool Protecting Wildlife, Habitat, and Working Land - GoConserve – GoConserve says:

    […] a regionally or globally rare ecosystem (such as longleaf-pine savannas) or organism (such as Karner blue butterflies). They can also contribute to landscape-level connectivity, offering wildlife seasonal resources […]

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