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Oak openings (also called "oak savannas") are grassy, savanna-like landscapes that are increasingly rare in North America. Prior to European settlement, oak openings used to be common in the Midwest (where the prairie met eastern forests), but over time, development and fire suppression eradicated more than 99% of this habitat nationwide.
Rush Oak Openings Preserve is the easternmost remaining oak opening in the country and the last known intact oak opening in New York State. In New York, oak openings were historically restricted to sites with droughty soils and were maintained by grazing and periodic wildfires. Today these habitats are managed through periodic mowing and prescribed fire.
This site, which also supports wetlands and a rich, limestone woodland, is the focus of a collaborative effort between The Nature Conservancy, the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, the Town of Rush and private landowners.
One of the biggest threats to oak openings communities is fire suppression. Fire prepares seed beds, knocks back woody species, releases nutrients and increases flowering and native oak opening species.
Property is adjacent to and accessed from the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation property. Trails and an interpretive kiosk are available on NYS DEC lands.
The savanna attracts hummingbird moths, swallowtails, monarchs and fritillary butterfly, as well as many as spring woodcocks, nesting bluebirds and other bird species.
Rush Oak Openings Preserve offers a kaleidoscope of wildflower displays. From early spring through fall an ever-changing sequence of wood lily, black-eyed susan, butterfly weed, wild bergamot, ladies' tresses and gentian blossoms appears across the open areas, which are dominated by Indian grass and little bluestem grass.
In the shaded oak and limestone woodlands, a spring display of trillium, mayapple, hepatica, green violet and Dutchman's breeches are followed by summer blooms of horse balm, great lobelia, tick trefoils and pokeweed.
This preserve is located in the Town of Rush, NY within Monroe County.
From the NY State Thruway (I-90) exit at 390 South.