Thursday, January 23, 2014

Nature in the city (San Francisco)

Nature in the City is a non-profit working in the City of San Francisco to help connect people to nature though both restoration and stewardship programs.  They provide public education and also habitat and plant consultations for both public and private spaces.  There was a great article in Earth Island Journal about a specific project that helped restore butterfly habitat in the city:

From Earth Island:

One of our keystone projects is the “Green Hairstreak Corridor,” a butterfly habitat restoration project situated in the inner Sunset District. The iridescent green, nickel-sized green hairstreak butterfly (Callophrys viridis) was once common throughout the area. It was often seen with the now-extinct Xerces blue (Glaucopsyche xerces), the first butterfly in the US said to go extinct due to urbanization. But today, the green hairstreak survives only in small and isolated populations. Because this butterfly can only fly a few hundred feet from its original habitat, the species might vanish unless we intervene to save it.

photo of a butterfly on a plant
Credit: Michael L. Baird

To help the butterfly, in 2006 local lepidopterist Liam O’Brien launched this wildlife habitat corridor project, which aims to connect two isolated green hairstreak butterfly populations via strategically placed “Street Parks” full of host plants and nectar sources.

It’s working. With the help of a handful of paid staff and volunteers, Nature in the City is recreating more of the upland dune habitat on which these butterflies depend. In spring 2011, the first green hairstreak butterfly was seen in a restored plot, and in spring 2013, dozens were witnessed darting between plants or perched in the sun. We have successfully connected the two isolated breeding populations and, for the time being, secured this threatened butterfly’s survival.

Such a great project to read about during these cold winter months and while hoping for a resurgence in the Monarch population in 2014!

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