Opinion - Saving butterflies

The following editorial is reprinted with permission from the Concord New Hampshire Monitor. This editorial appeared on the Opinion page on September 1, 1989. This editorial is about a tiny plot of land near Concord New Hampshire, where a few Karner Blues make their home.

It may soon be time to kiss the Karner Blue goodbye. As a story in Wednesday's Monitor by reporter Tad Shannon pointed out, the last New England population of the small butterflies is shrinking quickly.

The Karner Blues live in Concord's pine barrens. They thrive on the wild lupine that grows on the sandy soil beneath the power lines and in parts of the industrial park on Regional Drive. According to estimates by the New Hampshire Natural Heritage Inventory, the state program that keeps track of endangered plants and animals, there were 2,000 to 3,000 butterflies in 1983. Last year, the number was down to about 700.

The Karner Blue's turf was long ago zoned for an industrial park, and development has paved over much of its habitat. The Nature Conservancy has negotiated conservation easements with some of the area's landowners. They have agreed not to develop land crucial to the lupine and butterflies or to mow or spray it when such activities could cause serious harm.

But the Karner Blues, though beautiful, are small and easily forgotten. One owner of prime lupine habitat recently built on it, no doubt forgetting about the butterflies and an agreement signed years ago.

So like the Nature Conservancy and the Natural Heritage Inventory, we are not sanguine about the butterfly's survival. Originally, the conservancy had hoped to save 100 acres of the pine barrens as a preserve. But the flat, sandy land is eminently developable.

Now the butterfly's protectors seek only to set aside 50 acres or so as a preserve. With programs to encourage the proliferation of lupine like one undertaken recently by the Hodges Development Corp., perhaps a viable population of Karner Blues can be maintained.

We don't know what 50 acres of pine barrens land is worth in this market or it its owners are interested in selling. But we would encourage Concord's city council to consider seeking money from the state's land trust to buy the butterflies the breathing space they need.

A 50-acre preserve on the Heights could be of great value in and of itself as the city expands eastward. It is can also save the last home of the Karner Blue as well, it would be a bargain.

Butterfly Museum in Florida

from The Ithaca Journal, Saturday, Jan. 4, '92

Believe it or not, there really is a butterfly museum in Florida! At least 2,000 butterflies from around the world are at home at any given day at Butterfly World in Coconut Creek Florida.

This first butterfly center in the U.S. and the largest in the world, it exhibits stages of butterfly development and life-usually about 14 days in a complex that includes a farm, aviary, and gardens replicating the habitats of these fliers.

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