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Climate and Environment

What's Behind A Push To Preserve Nearly 100 Acres On The Palos Verdes Peninsula

Lush green hills are free of structures
A rendering of the proposed corridor
(Eric Jay
Courtesy Palos Verdes Land Conservancy)
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One of the rarest butterflies in the world makes its home here in a very specific location: the Palos Verdes Peninsula.

Listen: Resurrecting the World’s Rarest Butterfly

And now conservationists and a group of South Bay cities want to establish a 96-acre wildlife corridor near the coast. To make that a reality they've launched a $30 million campaign to raise funds needed to acquire land.

About the butterflies

"The Palos Verdes blue butterfly, it only exists on the Palos Verdes Peninsula," said Adrienne Mohan, who leads the Palos Verdes Land Conservancy, which has already worked with local cities to preserve some 1,600 acres on the peninsula.

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The species has been listed as endangered since 1980. According to U.S. Fish and Wildlife:

Ongoing threats to this species include habitat conversion through non-native plant invasion and ecological succession, small population size and climate change . Local biologists have worked with the Department of Defense to maintain this subspecies in captivity to guard against extinction since the 1990s.
A small silver blue butterfly flies among native California flowers
The Palos Verdes Blue Butterfly is now rarely seen in nature.
(Jane Hendron
Courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife)

She says protecting a significant stretch of land would bolster efforts to rebuild the butterfly population.

Other animals

In addition to the Palos Verdes blue butterfly, The Palos Verdes Land Conservancy says other animals that will benefit from the nature preserves are:

  • El Segundo blue butterfly
  • Monarch butterfly
  • Songbirds such as the coastal California gnatcatcher
  • Rare local species: cactus wren, raptors, owls
  • Grey fox

What's planned

A satellite image has the Pacific ocean on the bottom and outline proposed conservancy land in yellow
The starred parcels are targeted for acquisition.
(Courtesy Palos Verdes Land Conservancy)

If efforts to acquire and preserve the land are successful, Mohan says they will remove "invasive plants, such as acacia and mustard and then reintroduce a diverse array of beautiful and colorful native plants and wildflowers including poppies and Lupin."

Bringing back plants that are hosts for the blue butterflies will allow them to release butterflies being reared in captivity back into their natural environment.

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The goal she says is to "encourage their populations to rise."

"The peninsula is such a unique environment," she said, "and to be able to protect this open lands and restore it with native plants will benefit community residents as well as wildlife."

Mohan said another goal of the preservation efforts will be to reduce fire threats throughout the peninsula.

"What we have here is a once in a lifetime opportunity to protect and restore the last large piece of coastal open space in Los Angeles County," Mohan said.

Funds raised to date

In all $19.7 million in public funds have been raised toward the $30 million goal for "Go Wild For The Peninsula."

  • $12.6 million (U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service)
  • $4.8 million (California Dept. of Fish and Wildlife and California Wildlife Conservation Board)
  • $1.3 million (City of Rancho Palos Verdes)
  • $1 million (L.A. County Regional Park and Open Space District via Measure A.)
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