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US Fish & Wildlife Service FieldNotes

ANTIOCH DUNES NWR: New Fire Prevention Program Helps Conserve Endangered Butterfly

Region 8, June 24, 2009
California Conservation Corp crew create a fuel break and chip vegetation materials at the Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge. 

Photo by US Fish & Wildlife Service
California Conservation Corp crew create a fuel break and chip vegetation materials at the Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge. Photo by US Fish & Wildlife Service - Photo Credit: n/a
Artwork by Miriam Morrill, image of the Lange's metalmark butterfly.  Title: Recover and Return from the Abyss- Fire Prevention
Artwork by Miriam Morrill, image of the Lange's metalmark butterfly. Title: Recover and Return from the Abyss- Fire Prevention - Photo Credit: n/a

by Miriam Morrill, WUI Program Coordinator

The Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge is part of the San Francisco Bay Refuge Complex and is located along the San Joaquin River delta.  The refuge is only about fifty acres in size and is surrounded by the city of Antioch.  This refuge is a tiny remnant of an ancient dune ecosystem and the only place where the endangered Lange‚Äôs metalmark butterfly exists.  The butterfly is dependent on the naked stemmed buckwheat for all its life phases and one small wildfire could wipe the plants and the entire butterfly population. 

 

To help save the butterfly, a captive breeding program started in 2007.  Enhanced fire management activities have been developed and are focused at enhancing butterfly habitat while protecting adjacent homes from potential wildfires on refuge lands.   Over the past several years the refuge has maintained perimeter fuel breaks (zero to low vegetation zone about the width of a road) and thinned hazardous levels of vegetation to help reduce the risk and spread of wildfire while improving butterfly habitat. 

A new aspect to the program is to enhance fire prevention efforts. The nearest Fish & Wildlife Service fire crew is several hours away.  The refuge needed to utilize local partners with frequent and immediate access to the local community.  The emphasis is to reduce wildfire ignitions such as illegal fireworks, illegal campfires, and road side ignitions (cigarettes, vehicle fires, and unknown).  The refuge developed a cooperative agreement with the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District to help lead fire prevention efforts for the refuge.  A number of educational materials have been developed including supplemental school materials, banners, posters, educational videos (http://www.fws.gov/cno/fire/scvalley/ or  Vimeo.com ) series and various news and media outreach events.  A group of new fire prevention partners are on board and all are excited about the butterfly and fire prevention and conservation efforts.

Please contact Louis Terrazas at 707-769-4200 for more information.

 

Contact Info: Miriam Morrill, 530-934-2801, Miriam_Morrill@fws.gov