Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation

Press Release

April 22, 2015

Randy Simons | Dan Keefe
(518) 486-1868 |

Fifth Grade Students Help Restore Karner Blue Butterfly Habitat at Saratoga Spa State Park to Celebrate Earth Day

Natural stewardship a key focus of the Governor's NY Parks 2020 Plan

Saratoga Spa State Park today enlisted the help of local students to complete the restoration of habitat for the federally endangered Karner blue butterfly in the park. Local students from the Waldorf School spent Earth Day by helping spread the seeds of native plants as one of the last steps in restoring 1.5 acres of habitat at the Saratoga Springs park. The announcement is in honor of Earth Week, April 19-25, which Governor Cuomo proclaimed as a weeklong celebration of New York's commitment and accomplishments to protecting our environment, conserving open space, increasing access to the state's vast and magnificent natural resources, implementing clean energy initiatives and preparing for the effects of climate change.

"Saratoga Spa State Park and State Parks across New York are enjoyed by millions every year for vacations, sightseeing and recreation," State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey said. "The heart of our great park system is its natural beauty, open spaces and diversity of plant and animal life. As we celebrate Earth Week, the restoration of Saratoga Spa's Karner blue habitat demonstrates New York State's ongoing commitment to the stewardship of our irreplaceable natural resources."

Lands on the east side of Saratoga Spa State Park are habitat for the Karner blue butterfly, a federally endangered species, along with a number of other butterfly species that are rare in New York state. The $10,000 project is part of an effort to restore some of the traditional range of the Karner blue. Last fall, State Parks naturalists cleared the area of shrubs, bushes, and other plants that had invaded the area over time. The Earth Day planting of these native plants that are critical for the Karner blue butterfly's life cycle will help complete the transformation of an aging old field into a site resembling the pitch pine - scrub oak barrens that the Karner blue calls home. Funding from Governor Andrew M. Cuomo's NY Parks 2020 initiative supported the clearing work and the purchase of native seeds, as well as split rail fencing to help protect the habitat and informational signage to educate park visitors.

Waldorf School students helped park naturalists plant native species, mostly wildflowers, that will provide the butterflies with nectar, shelter, and good places to lay their eggs. In doing so, these students helped the park foster future generations of the Karner blue, for the preservation of biodiversity for future generations of New Yorkers.

Of the 12,000 known rare species and significant habitats in New York, over 1,700 occur in New York state parkland. State Parks contain 31 state endangered or threatened animal species and 23 globally rare animal species (species with 100 or less known occurrences worldwide).

Each year, State Parks undertakes a number of environmental stewardship projects to prevent the spread of invasive species, protect rare plants and animals, and improve natural habitat at parks across the state. The projects are funded through Governor Andrew M. Cuomo's NY Parks 2020 plan, a multi-year commitment to leverage a broad range of private and public funding to invest approximately $900 million in State Parks from 2011 to 2020. The Governor committed $110 million to the effort in the 2015-16 State Budget.

The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation oversees 180 state parks and 35 historic sites, which are visited by 60 million people annually. For more information on any of these recreation areas, call 518-474-0456 or visit, connect on Facebook, or follow on Twitter.