Feds OK National Grid butterfly plan

The federal government has issued National Grid a 50-year permit for its impact on the endangered Ka

The federal government has issued National Grid a 50-year permit for its impact on the endangered Karner blue butterfly and state-protected frosted elfin buttery.

The permit applies to approximately 160 miles of electric or natural gas rights-of-way in Albany, Schenectady, Saratoga, Warren and Oneida counties where the Karner blue is known to exist.

Christopher Hawver, executive director of the Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission, said Wednesday his organization has been working on permit issues with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Grid, and the state Department of Environmental Conservation for at least two years.

“It gives us a management tool,” Hawver said.

National Grid is providing the Preserve with $1,000 per year to manage Karner blue habitat in its right-of-way in the Pine Bush, which is located off Route 155 between Central and Western avenues in Albany.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has approved National Grid’s habitat conservation plan, which will be implemented by the Pine Bush Preserve Commission on and near National Grid’s right-of-way within the 3,200 acre preserve.

“We have preserve on either side of the right-of-way,” Hawver said.

The Karner blue butterfly, which is on both the state and federal endangered species lists, and the state-protected frosted elfin butterfly both use the blue lupine wildflower as their habitat. The blue lupine grows best in sunny, open areas like power line right-of-ways. The federal permit acknowledges that National Grid may destroy some of this blue lupine when it operates trucks and other heavy equipment in the right-of-way. National Grid has agreed to mitigate this damage with its conservation plan.

Under the conservation plan National Grid agreed not to mow rights-of-way in the June and July periods when the butterflies are active, and may also plant lupine.

“New York supports a major portion of the remaining Karner blue butterfly population in the eastern United States and National Grid’s efforts to conserve both the Karner blue and frosted elfin will help secure the future of these butterflies in the state,” said David Stilwell, supervisor of the Fish and Wildlife Service’s New York Field Office.

Categories: Schenectady County

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