Printer Friendly
The Free Library
22,725,466 articles and books


Byline: Scott Maben The Register-Guard

When Warren and Laurie Halsey gaze out the windows of their spacious workshop on a butte Butte, city, United States
Butte (byt), city (1990 pop. 33,336), seat of Silver Bow co., SW Mont.; inc. 1879. It is a trade, ranching, and industrial center.
 west of Monroe, they don't see a hillside infested in·fest  
tr.v. in·fest·ed, in·fest·ing, in·fests
1. To inhabit or overrun in numbers or quantities large enough to be harmful, threatening, or obnoxious:
 with exotic grasses.

They see a future home for the Fender's blue butterfly Fender's Blue (Icaricia icarioides fenderi) is an endangered subspecies of butterfly found only in the Willamette Valley of northwestern Oregon, United States. The species was first noticed in the 1920s but wasn't scientifically documented and named until 1931 by  and Kincaid's lupine lupine or lupin (l`pĭn), any species of the genus Lupinus, annual or perennial herbs or shrubs of the family Leguminosae (pulse family). , a pair of native species on the slide toward extinction.

"We'd like to do something meaningful on the hillsides that adds to the diversity of the ranch," Warren Halsey said.

The couple plan to knock back the weeds and recreate upland prairie habitat that used to cover much of the Willamette Valley The Willamette Valley (pronounced [wɪˈlæ.mɪt], with the accent on the second syllable) is the region in northwest Oregon in the United States that surrounds the Willamette River as it proceeds northward from its  150 years ago. And they're getting help from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the agency in charge of saving the species.

Collaborations between private landowners and public agencies to restore habitat for rare species are raising hopes for the recovery of Willamette Valley plants and animals Plants and Animals are a Canadian indie-rock band from Montreal, comprised of guitarist-vocalists Warren Spicer and Nic Basque, and drummer-vocalist Matthew Woodley.[1] They are signed to Secret City Records.  that have succumbed to agriculture, development and invasive weeds.

"We may be actually able to move these species, if not off the endangered species endangered species, any plant or animal species whose ability to survive and reproduce has been jeopardized by human activities. In 1999 the U.S. government, in accordance with the U.S.  list, at least into a more secure position on the ground," said Tom Kaye, executive director of the nonprofit Institute for Applied Ecology Applied ecology is a subfield within ecology which considers the application of the science of ecology to real-world (usually management) questions. It is also called ecological or environmental technology.  in Corvallis.

Most of the habitat for the butterfly and lupine has been lost or gravely compromised over the past century and a half, placing the species among the rarest of native wildlife in Oregon.

"Without intervention and careful management on our part, we would certainly lose them," said Bruce Newhouse, a Eugene botanist and president of the Native Plant Society of Oregon.

Once prevalent throughout the valley, the butterfly, lupine and other native prairie plants have retreated to isolated pockets, including near Eugene and at a federal wildlife refuge wildlife refuge, haven or sanctuary for animals; an area of land or of land and water set aside and maintained, usually by government or private organization, for the preservation and protection of one or more species of wildlife.  west of Salem.

"We have just 1 percent of this habitat left. That's pretty severe," said Carol Schuler of the Fish & Wildlife Service.

It will take considerable work to improve the quality of native habitat and protect those areas from future threats, said Schuler, who coordinates work on three national wildlife refuges in the Willamette Valley.

"I always say we're losing this habitat by benign neglect benign neglect Decision-making A stance of nonintervention that a clinician may adopt in the face of lesions and clinical conditions which have an uncertain or stable clinical course. Cf Watchful waiting. ," she said.

Much of the habitat was lost as settlers cleared prairies and savannas for crops and pastures beginning in the mid-1800s and as fire suppression allowed Douglas fir Douglas fir: see pine.
Douglas fir

Any of about six species of coniferous evergreen timber trees (see conifer) that make up the genus Pseudotsuga, in the pine family, native to western North America and eastern Asia.
 to take over the foothills ringing the valley.

More recently, expanding housing developments, Christmas tree Christmas tree

Evergreen tree, usually decorated with lights and ornaments, to celebrate the Christmas season. The use of evergreen trees, wreaths, and garlands as symbols of eternal life was common among the ancient Egyptians, Chinese, and Hebrews.
 farms and vineyards have taken a heavy toll.

Fragile plants and insects that rely on these vanishing native prairies and oak savannas haven't had much of a chance.

"We've hammered them pretty hard," Newhouse said. "For me, it's important to find these remnant ecosystems and restore them the best we can so we can keep some of that natural identity."

Subject of suit

Earlier this year, the Native Plant Society and four conservation groups in Lane County sued the Fish & Wildlife Service over the pace of restoration efforts for the butterfly and lupine as well as a second rare plant, the Willamette daisy.

The plaintiffs claim the agency has moved too slowly in designating critical habitat for the three species since it listed them under the federal Endangered Species Act The federal Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA) (16 U.S.C.A. §§ 1531 et seq.) was enacted to protect animal and plant species from extinction by preserving the ecosystems in which they survive and by providing programs for their conservation.  in early 2000. The butterfly and daisy, found only in the Willamette Valley, are endangered. The lupine, whose range is primarily in the valley, is a threatened species.

Fish & Wildlife officials are working on a regional recovery plan that will benefit all prairie species at risk. As part of that, they're developing techniques to measure how much habitat rare plants occupy - and how much will be needed before the species can be downgraded from threatened or endangered.

In the meantime Adv. 1. in the meantime - during the intervening time; "meanwhile I will not think about the problem"; "meantime he was attentive to his other interests"; "in the meantime the police were notified"
meantime, meanwhile
, they point to progress toward restoration at places such as Baskett Slough National Wildlife Refuge Baskett Slough National Wildlife Refuge is located in northwestern Oregon, 10 miles (16 km) west of Salem in Polk County. Situated in open farmland near the eastern foothills of the Oregon Coast Range with the broad Willamette Valley and the Cascade Range to the east,  nine miles Nine Miles is a reggae "band" started by Yoshiaki Manabe (真鍋吉明) of The Pillows. The name Nine Miles comes from the name of the town in which Bob Marley grew up in Jamaica.
  • Yoshiaki Manabe is the only member of the "band.
 west of Salem.

Baskett Butte, rising from the middle of the 2,492-acre refuge, has the largest population of Fender's blue butterflies in most years. That's thanks to a strong presence of spurred lupine, a host plant for the butterfly that's closely related to Kincaid's lupine, said Jock Beall, wildlife biologist for the refuge complex.

But the habitat is jeopardized by encroaching cherry and fir trees, poison oak poison oak: see poison ivy.
poison oak

Species of poison ivy (Toxicodendron diversilobum) native to western North America and classified in the sumac (or cashew) family.
 and exotic weeds, Beall said. And in the absence of the fires that used to burn in the valley each year, even the oaks are growing too thick and chasing out the lupine, he said.

"The butterfly habitat there is gone," Beall said, pointing to an oak grove on a south slope of the butte. "It's essentially gone."

The agency has begun aggressively mowing invasive plants and removing unwanted trees to favor upland prairie and oak savanna habitat at the refuge.

"So we are getting more active here where we have this healthy population, and we'll work out from there," Beall said. "You take care of what you have first."

West Eugene a hot spot

It's the logical approach, Newhouse said.

"As botanists, we tend to concentrate on these remnants and the potential to propagate from the remaining natives," he said.

With that in mind, the west Eugene area has taken center stage in the most promising restoration work trained on Kincaid's lupine and Fender's blue butterfly populations.

Expanding the habitat for those species is one priority of a partnership between the city of Eugene, The Nature Conservancy, the federal Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

In a few weeks, the partnership will break ground on a wetland and upland prairie restoration project at a 15-acre site near West 18th Avenue and Bertlesen Road, said Ed Alverson, who manages 440 acres of conservancy land in the Willow Creek watershed on the southwest edge of Eugene.

Officials hope to replicate the success of previous projects, including lupine and butterfly recovery in the Willow Creek natural area and at a small study plot off Danebo Avenue.

At the Danebo site, lupine was planted four years ago. Two years later, the butterfly showed up at the site and began laying its tiny eggs on the plant, establishing a new population. The butterflies may have migrated there from the colony at Willow Creek more than a mile away, said Kaye, the Corvallis botanist.

"It's very exciting," he said. "It suggests it may be possible, with strategic plantings, that we could use an if-you-build-it-they-will-come strategy."

That's the idea behind a growing emphasis on the role of private lands in native plant restorations. Some valley residents are jumping at the chance to establish populations of threatened and endangered plants, and the Fish & Wildlife Service is giving them technical and financial support.

Private lands a key

Private lands offer the best opportunity to establish new islands of habitat that could serve as stepping stones between the Fender's blue populations near Eugene and Salem, said Steve Smith, private lands biologist for the Fish & Wildlife Service.

The ability to migrate between populations may invigorate in·vig·or·ate  
tr.v. in·vig·or·at·ed, in·vig·or·at·ing, in·vig·or·ates
To impart vigor, strength, or vitality to; animate: "A few whiffs of the raw, strong scent of phlox invigorated her" 
 the butterfly's genetics and help the species bounce back, botanists believe.

Three miles west of Monroe, the Halseys hope to establish one link in this habitat chain on their 270-acre Raindance Ranch. The two are working with Smith to design a reintroduction plot for Kincaid's lupine and Fender's blue.

They'll begin by clearing weeds and establishing compatible native grasses. Mowing and herbicide herbicide (hr`bəsīd'), chemical compound that kills plants or inhibits their normal growth. A herbicide in a particular formulation and application can be described as selective or nonselective.  spraying will help knock down exotic plants and make way for the lupine, which will be transplanted a few years later. The butterfly may colonize col·o·nize  
v. col·o·nized, col·o·niz·ing, col·o·niz·es
1. To form or establish a colony or colonies in.

2. To migrate to and settle in; occupy as a colony.

 the area on its own or may need to be introduced someday.

The couple previously created a pond in a former field on their land with the agency's assistance. Within a few years, it was teeming teem 1  
v. teemed, teem·ing, teems

1. To be full of things; abound or swarm: A drop of water teems with microorganisms.

 with wildlife, including the threatened western pond turtle The Western Pond Turtle, or Pacific Pond Turtle, (Actinemys marmorata) is a small to medium-sized turtle growing to approximately 20 cm in carapace length. It is limited to the west coast of the United States of America and Mexico, ranging from western Washington state to .

"People get so excited that we're doing this," Warren Halsey said. "It's not an ego thing; it's spreading a happy message."

The Fish & Wildlife Service is working with nearly 50 landowners in the valley on an array of restoration projects this year.

"A lot of people want ponds and waterfowl waterfowl, common term for members of the order Anseriformes, wild, aquatic, typically freshwater birds including ducks, geese, and screamers. In Great Britain the term is also used to designate species kept for ornamental purposes on private lakes or ponds, while in ," Smith said. "When we start talking about upland prairie, it's a whole other game. It's a new science. I don't think there are any experts out there."

The Institute for Applied Ecology is helping assemble a better base of knowledge, Kaye said. The organization conducts research on how best to restore and maintain native valley habitats. It also collects seeds from the listed plants for direct seeding efforts as well as to raise them in greenhouses for transplanting.

"Our success has been good with some attempts with Kincaid's lupine, and other attempts with that same species are a complete failure," Kaye said.

But the biggest impediment to successful restoration work, he said, is the competition from nonnative weeds.

"If we didn't have any exotics, restoration would be a snap," he said.

"There's a long list of invasive grasses, from reed canarygrass to false brome to velvet grass.

"The list is just nauseatingly long and makes restoration and recovery of endangered plant species and their dependent animals very difficult tasks."

Fender's blue butterfly

Status: Endangered

Profile: Once thought extinct, this small butterfly relies on Kincaid's lupine for food and to procreate pro·cre·ate
1. To beget and conceive offspring; to reproduce.

2. To produce or create; originate.


Habitat: Upland prairie

Kincaid's lupine

Status: Threatened

Profile: Of the pea family, a long-lived perennial herb and host plant of Fender's blue butterfly.

Habitat: Upland prairie

Willamette daisy

Status: Endangered

Profile: Of the aster family, a native perennial broad-leaved plant.

Habitat: Wetland and upland prairie
COPYRIGHT 2003 The Register Guard
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2003, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

 Reader Opinion




Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:Private plots restored to native prairies may help save rare butterfly; Environment
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Aug 4, 2003
Previous Article:A quiz: Name that tunesmith.
Next Article:Thinking big.

Related Articles
Return of the native: natural prairies slowly make a comeback. (Currents).
This land is their land; how to make your property wildlife-friendly. (House & Home).
Nature campaign aims to preserve.
A better way to protect endangered species.
Lawsuit seeks protection for butterfly, plants.
Groups settle lawsuit over butterflies.
Spotted: more checkerspots.
On the wild side: native Mississippi wildflowers are easy-care additions to the home garden.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2014 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters