National Wildlife Refuge
Contra Costa County, CA
Phone Number: 510-521-9624
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Continued . . . Isolation of this sand dune habitat resulted in the development of subspecies of plants and insects that are found nowhere else in the world.
Around the early 1900s, this biological "island" began to experience a dramatic change as human development expanded. The easily-accessible sand was harvested to make bricks, with many of the bricks going to rebuild San Francisco after the 1906 earthquake. Large-scale sand mining and industrial development combined to fragment the sand dune habitat so that only a small portion of the original ecosystem was left. Exotic grasses and vegetation encroached on the sand dunes to crowd the few remaining endangered plants.
By the time the refuge was established, only a few acres of remnant dune habitat supported the last natural populations of Antioch Dunes evening-primrose, Contra Costa wallflower, and Lange's metalmark butterfly. The refuge was open for public use until 1986 when it was closed to protect the plants from trampling and wildfire.
The refuge consists of two units that are managed to prevent the extinction of these unique species. Intensive management has already resulted in the highest Lange's metalmark butterfly population in 20 years. Other species, including the silvery legless lizard have fared well under current protection provided by the refuge.
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