Multi-stage, four-year plan to bolster endangered butterfly population underway in California

Behren’s Silverspot butterfly, a federally endangered species since 1997, was once seen in abundance along the Northern California coast.

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Image Credit: Mendocino Land Trust

In a concerted effort to help facilitate the resurgence of Behren’s Silverspot butterfly, the State of California Wildlife Conservation Board awarded Mendocino Land Trust (MLT) a $1.5 million dollar grant to spearhead the joint effort to oversee a multi-stage, four-year plan. Behren’s Silverspot butterfly, a federally endangered species since 1997, was once seen in abundance along the Northern California coast.

Scientists said Behren’s Silverspot butterfly sightings have decreased significantly over the past 15 years with only 92 sightings documented and therefore, could use the help.

“Mendocino Land Trust winning this grant is a victory for the butterfly and a testimony to the dedication of all of these organizations,” MLT said in a statement.

The restoration plan will include support from State Parks, the Bureau of Land Management, the Laguna Foundation, the Sequoia Park Zoo, and Wynn Coastal Planning & Biology to provide the intervention needed to help bolster the population of the Behren’s Silverspot butterfly

The first phase of the plan included the “cultivation and planting of 35,000 early blue violets, which is the sole sustenance for the caterpillars” because “invasive grasses has significantly encroached upon the habitat of these small purple flowering plants across Northern California’s Mendocino coastline,” True Activist reported.

“Of course if you’re focusing on a very small animal or insect, I think that the benefits of restoring that very small animal’s habitat has greater effects for many other species, especially pollinator species,” Anna Bride, stewardship project manager at MLT, said.

With an additional blend of indigenous flora introduced to support the ecosystem, about 53 acres of land was reclaimed to help revive the native wildflowers. And this spring, Speyeria Conservation and Research will release 1,412 caterpillars, which were bred in captivity by the organization and will morph into Behren’s Silverspot butterflies, into this new habitat.

“With the staunch support of hundreds of biophile MLT donors, we were able to dedicate the staff time to work with our partners to secure the funding to allow us to restore habitat for this tiny beautiful creature,” Conrad Kramer, executive director at MLT, said.

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