The Rome Sand Plains is a local treasure, a unique natural habitat that hosts many rare butterflies, birds and plants, ecologists say.
Local educator, scientist and historian Bob Allers will share the ins-and-outs of this oft-overlooked hidden gem, located just a few miles from downtown Rome, with a program at the Rome Historical Society at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 21. The event is free and open to the public.
The Rome Sand Plains are a state-protected pine barren that consists of sand dunes, peat bogs, where specialized wildlife have learned to adapt and thrive.
Geologists consider the Rome Sand Plains to be a relic of Lake Iroquois, an enormous ancient lake which has shrunk to become the present-day Lake Ontario.
Lake Iroquois existed near the end of the last great Ice Age, draining into the Atlantic Ocean via the Mohawk and Hudson Rivers. Its outlet was near the present Sand Plains.
The natural habitat found at the Rome Sand Plains is usually found near large bodies of water.
Although the lake that formed the sand plains is now gone, the area is still home to specialized plants and insects including the purple picture plant, wild blue lupine, dewdrops and the endangered frosted elfin butterfly.
The Rome Sand Plains is owned and managed by a consortium of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, The Nature Conservancy, the Izaak Walton League, Oneida County, the City of Rome, as well as private
Of the 16,000 acres of the Rome Sand Plains, more than 4,000 are protected.
Allers, a volunteer with the National Park Service at Fort Stanwix National Monument, received a bachelor’s degree in geology from Hamilton College and a master’s degree in geological sciences from SUNY Binghamton.
For 34 years, he taught earth science at Vernon-Verona-Sherrill and New Hartford schools before retiring in 2010. He has also engaged in special projects with the state Education Department, and the state Geological Survey. He has led many field trips for outdoor education groups throughout central New York.
The Rome Historical Society, 200 Church St., is a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of the area’s rich history. It houses an extensive collection of local artifacts on display as well as hosts a number of educational programs and events.
For information, call 315-336-5870, like them on Facebook, or visit their website at www.romehistoricalsociety.org.