News

Endangered butterflies released at Edgewood

 

By Chris Cooney

Bay City News Service

Biologists carrying coolers full of butterflies hiked into Edgewood County Park and Natural Preserve on Wednesday afternoon in an effort to reintroduce the endangered checkerspot butterfly into San Mateo County.

About 40 adult red-and-white checkered butterflies were collected from Coyote Ridge in Santa Clara County and released into the park by volunteers and biologists working with the San Mateo County Parks Foundation.

Stuart Weiss, a Stanford biologist who is spearheading the repopulation effort, tried to reintroduce the checkerspot butterfly to San Mateo County in the spring of 2007.

That attempt failed due to unusually dry weather conditions, which killed off the food supply before the 1,000 caterpillars that had been hand-carried into the Edgewood Park were able to mature and reproduce, Mr. Weiss said.

"When we tried this back in 2007, we just happened to pick the fourth-driest year since 1895," he said.

Along with the 21 females and 20 males released Wednesday, volunteers in February brought in more than 4,000 caterpillars and scattered them throughout the hills and low-growing native grasses of the 467-acre park.

The checkerspot butterfly, which is a federally listed endangered species, numbered around 4,500 adults in the Edgewood area in 1997, Mr. Weiss said.

Nitrogen contained in exhaust from vehicles traveling on nearby Interstate 280 created an artificial fertilizer, which allowed invasive grass species to grow and crowd out the native species upon which the checkerspot butterflies depend, he said.

The checkerspots were extinct in the area by 2003.

Using funds from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the California Department of Food and Agriculture and Pacific Gas & Electric, park managers have been able to eradicate the invasive weeds in sections of the park, allowing native grasses and wildflowers to gradually repopulate.

The return of the checkerspots' natural food supply and a renewed effort to reintroduce the butterflies in greater numbers gives Mr. Weiss and his volunteers hope that this year's efforts will succeed.

Mr. Weiss carefully removed each butterfly from containers in the ice cooler and placed them individually on budding wildflowers such as desert parsley, dwarf plantain and tidy tips.

Comments

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Posted by karenstar02@gmail.com
a resident of another community
on Mar 31, 2011 at 12:44 pm

Wonderful news about the endangered butterflies. This year I have put out Audubon butterfly boxes in the yard.


Like this comment
Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Mar 31, 2011 at 9:37 pm

I applaud the efforts of volunteers in their quest to resurrect the Checkerspot Butterfly on the lands of what could have been Checkerspot Meadows Golf Course.
As a resident of Emerald Lake for the past 46 years, I have followed the construction of I-280, which was rerouted to placate environmental advocates and Woodside "horsey" people (a Robert Trent Jones characterisation). See: Web Link
I have the San Francisco Water Department "Grant of Scenic and Recreation Easement" made in exchange for the I-280 rerouting which added 1/2 mile to the commute.
I remember Interior Secretary, Cecil Andrus, granting $500,000 to San Mateo County to build a golf course at what is now Edgewood park.
I listened as Francis Britschgi, speaking in favor of a golf course at Edgewood Park, told the Board of Supervisors how he ran cattle all over those ridges.
I've heard some say that if we had only let the cows graze on the invasive grasses, we wouldn't have lost the butterfly colony.
I am aware of two other colonies of the species which no longer exist. One, under the care of Paul Ehrlich, went extinct. Another was destroyed when Canada College was built.
I remember Lennie Roberts' Committee for Green Foothills with their "bait and switch" ploy suggesting the Southern Watershed, as an alternative to Edgewood Park, for a golf course. (which never happened)
From what I know about Golf Course Architects, I cannot help but feel that the Checkerspot Butterflies would have had a much better chance of survival if those architects were given that opportunity as a condition to development of a golf course.


Like this comment
Posted by golf course?!?
a resident of Menlo-Atherton High School
on Apr 1, 2011 at 1:27 pm

Mr Hickey:

"I cannot help but feel that the Checkerspot Butterflies would have had a much better chance of survival if those architects were given that opportunity as a condition to development of a golf course"

Based on what? Their preference for Kentucky Bluegrass? Based on anotion that operators would cut into their profits to keep other invasive species out?

Glad you "feel" that way. Let us know when you will back in up with something other than guesses, assertions, baseless claims, etc...
"
"I remember..."

"some say..."

"I cannot help but feel ..."

"if"

"better chance"

Back in the 60's, developers wanted to lop off the top third of San bruno Mountain and dump it into the bay. Based on those memories and other clashes over development, I, for one, will always defer to the reasoning behind wait and see before giving into development.

A half mile longer commute? What's that, 30 seconds?


Like this comment
Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Apr 3, 2011 at 8:58 am

I said "From what I know about Golf Course Architects, I cannot help but feel that the Checkerspot Butterflies would have had a much better chance of survival if those architects were given that opportunity as a condition to development of a golf course."
Mitigation is normally the way in which problems in an EIR are handled. This was not allowed to happen with Edgewood Park.
With the financial crises facing San Mateo County agencies, it's time to revisit the issue of environmentally friendly, revenue producing golf courses on public lands. The need for such facilities has increased since the 1987 study by ERA Associates, commissioned by San Mateo County Parks and Recreation Department, identified such fiscal viability of such golf course development.


Like this comment
Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Apr 15, 2011 at 12:16 pm

For those interested in having revenue producing golf courses on public lands, I have uploaded "A Market and Financial Feasibility Analysis for a New Golf Course in San Mateo Countyā€¯ by ERA Associates, commissioned by the San Mateo County Parks and Recreation Department in 1987.
See: Web Link
Forget about an 1/8% sales tax. Proper stewardship of 1% of park and openspace lands could help support the remaining 99% of the land!


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