Center for Biological Diversity
Protecting endangered species and wild
places of western North America
For Immediate Release:
April 30, 2001
U.S. DESIGNATES 23,903 ACRES IN SAN MATEO AND SANTA CLARA COUNTIES AS CRITICAL HABITAT' FOR BAY CHECKERSPOT BUTTERFLY
RARE BAY AREA BUTTERFLY RECEIVES RECOVERY BOOST
Today, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) finalized the designation of 23,903 acres in San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties as critical habitat' under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) for the Bay Checkerspot Butterfly. The Center filed suit against FWS in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California on June 30, 1999 for failure to designate critical habitat under the ESA. The Bay Checkerspot Butterfly was originally listed as Threatened under the ESA in 1987. Critical habitat was first proposed in the 1980's for the species but was subsequently withdrawn.
In a strongly-worded opinion issued on August 30, 2000, federal judge Samuel Conti quoted Congress to point out the connection between conserving biological diversity and human welfare: "From the most narrow possible point of view, it is in the best interests of mankind to minimize the losses of genetic variations....who knows, or can say, what potential cures for cancer or other scourges...may lie locked up in the structures of plants which may yet be undiscovered, much less analyzed?"
Judge Conti ordered
the FWS to complete the designation process for the Bay Checkerspot Butterfly
within 120 days.
"Peter Galvin, California Director for the Center for Biological Diversity stated "The Bay Checkerspot Butterfly is one of California's most beautiful and magnificent creatures. We are hopeful that today's habitat designation will help turn the tide toward recovery for the species."
The Bay Checkerspot
Butterfly depends on host plants which grow primarily in grasslands on
serpentine soils, a bluish-green soil type that is naturally highly mineralized,
high in magnesium, and low in nitrogen and calcium. This specialized soil
system is very valuable biologically because it supports a high percentage
of California's endemic species. Unfortunately, the majority of the Checkerspot's
serpentine soil habitat in the Bay area has been destroyed.
BACKGROUND FACTS ABOUT THE BAY CHECKERSPOT BUTTERFLY
The Bay Checkerspot
is a medium-sized butterfly with a wingspan of about 2 inches. The forewings
have black bands along all the veins on the upper wing surface, contrasting
sharply with bright red, yellow, and white spots.