Military Base Among Last Habitat for Butterflies

Friday, 23 May 2014 06:35 AM

 

Share:
  Comment  |
   Contact Us  |
  Print  
|  A   A  
  Copy Shortlink

An undeveloped stretch of native prairie in south Puget Sound offers one of the few habitats in the world where a two-inch colorful checkered butterfly thrives. It also happens to be the main artillery impact range for Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

The Army's Stryker combat brigade and other troops regularly practice military maneuvers and live-fire training on acres of scenic, open grassland where a small population of Taylor's checkerspot butterfly feed on nectar of native blooms, mate and lay eggs.

The butterfly's listing as a federal endangered species last fall "has the potential to cause major restrictions on training," said Jeffrey Foster, an ecologist at the military installation.

That has the Army working to boost the numbers of butterflies, once found at more than 70 sites in Puget Sound, Oregon and British Columbia but are now reduced to 14 sites. The effort mirrors others by the Army at installations around the country.

From Maryland to Louisiana to Colorado, the Army has been conserving buffer areas around bases to limit urban development, while also preserving and restoring habitat for rare species such as the red-cockaded woodpecker and the golden-cheeked warbler.

So far, the program has preserved over 200,000 acres of lands.

At JBLM, 44 miles south of Seattle, the program is helping not only the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly but also the streaked horned lark and Mazama pocket gopher.

Last October, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service concluded the Taylor's checkerspot was in danger of becoming extinct and designated nearly 2,000 acres in Clallam County, Puget Sound and Oregon's Willamette Valley as critical habitat for the creature.

The agency said it considered "military training under present conditions a threat to the short-term and long-term conservation of the Taylor's checkerspot." The eight-wheeled, armored Stryker vehicle and soldier foot traffic can crush larvae and damage plants the butterflies rely on.

The Army has been working with the state, the Center for Natural Lands Management and others to preserve and restore habitat, both on and off the military installation, so that the butterflies could be re-introduced.

The military and its partners have committed about $35 million and protected about several thousand acres of land in and around JBLM for multiple species. It will likely take years to increase the butterfly's numbers, but those working on the effort are already seeing some success.

Taylor's checkerspot butterflies are establishing at two of three sites at JBLM and on two other sites near Olympia where they have been re-introduced.

"We're in a much better position now than were five years ago," said Mary Linders, a conservation biologist with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The Army is working with the Center for Natural Lands Management, a non-profit group that manages lands that are purchased, works with partners who raise the butterflies in captivity, propagates native prairie plants and prepares sites where the checkerspots can be re-introduced.

Hannah Anderson, rare species program manager at CNLM, said the military's program helped "protect lands off the base, restore them to high quality and bring the animals there so we could protect these animals but also the military's ability to train."

On a recent day, Linders and others walked a section of prairie at the artillery impact area to count adult butterflies and monitor the timing of the flight season.

It is prime season for the butterflies to mate, and their orange and white checkered wings flutter as they move from one plant to another. They fly in groups and dip into the center of Puget balsamroot, bright sunflower-like plants that are in full bloom.

Nearby, pock-marked bunkers bear evidence of artillery fire. White stakes mark areas where vehicles must stay on the road and where soldiers and others are prohibited from digging or camping. Linders points out a cluster of eggs at the base of a red harsh paintbrush.

"You can see lots and lots of them as we're walking through here," she said. "It's the largest population left in the checkerspot's range."

© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Share:
  Comment  |
   Contact Us  |
  Print  
  Copy Shortlink
Around the Web
Join the Newsmax Community
Please review Community Guidelines before posting a comment.
>> Register to share your comments with the community.
>> Login if you are already a member.
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
Email:
Retype Email:
Country
Zip Code:
 
Hot Topics
Follow Newsmax
Like us
on Facebook
Follow us
on Twitter
Add us
on Google Plus
Around the Web
You May Also Like

Study: Fist Bumps Could Cut Transmission of Germs

Monday, 28 Jul 2014 14:39 PM

Ditching handshakes in favor of more informal fist bumps could help cut down on the spread of bacteria and illnesses, ac . . .

Samsung Postpones Launch of Tizen Smartphone

Monday, 28 Jul 2014 08:31 AM

Samsung Electronics Co. said Monday it is delaying sales of its first Tizen-powered smartphone in the latest setback to  . . .

Why Is Demand for Tablets Slowing?

Sunday, 27 Jul 2014 13:39 PM

Touted as the next big thing in computing when it was introduced by Apple in 2010, the tablet computer has seen a recent . . .

Most Commented

Newsmax, Moneynews, and Independent. American. are registered trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc. Newsmax TV, NewsmaxWorld, NewsmaxHealth, are trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc.

 
NEWSMAX.COM
America's News Page
©  Newsmax Media, Inc.
All Rights Reserved