Essays On Butterflies

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Williams Anise Swallowtail at Pier 70 feeding on nectar of mallow flower, May 2015 Photo: Lisa Ruth Elliott Red Admiral on Potrero Hill Photo: Margo Bors Mylitta Crescent spot in Glen Canyon.

Photo: Margo Bors needs ID Photo: Chris Carlsson Anise Swallowtail on Twin Peaks, August 2007 Photo: Chris Carlsson As early as the mid-1870s, entomologists and amateur naturalists in San Francisco began to lament the loss of native plant habitat and its effect on butterfly abundance and diversity.

The fate of the Xerces blue butterfly, an endemic species of the dunes of San Francisco, was the most noticeable but hardly the only species in decline.

In 1875 Hans Herman Behr, a local entomologist and early member of the California Academy of Sciences, was predicting its demise.

The pioneering environmentalist John Muir was no great fan of cities.

In 1868, he hightailed it out of San Francisco as fast as he could for the Sierra Nevada.The numbers of visitors to our National Parks who are African-American or Latino are far underrepresented relative to their proportion of the U. Membership in environmental advocacy groups such as the Sierra Club (which was founded by Muir) and the Nature Conservancy—which some hope can rescue park lands—is overwhelmingly white and aging.In the case of the Nature Conservancy, the current average age of new members is 62.What easier way is there to expose people to nature than right in their own backyards?As a boy, my parents took me to Yosemite and it made an impression, but I spent more time at home in San Jose playing along the banks of Penitencia Creek in Alum Rock Park and Coyote Creek in Kelley Park.By expanding on Muir’s vision to value and explore the nature that is right here in our cities, we just might be able to build a new constituency and preserve his legacy.In the 21st century the fate of nature in California is more likely to be determined by the young Latina girl who becomes fascinated by a butterfly in a reclaimed brownfield than by John Muir and the distant peaks of Yosemite.In 1914, federal debt stood at 4 percent of gross domestic product. The capacity of the federal government to acquire and manage wilderness lands is diminishing and there seems little chance of a reversal.Since 2000, the portion of the federal budget allocated to the National Park Service declined by about 40 percent relative to other programs.He later referred to Los Angeles as “that handsome conceited little town” and similarly skedaddled away pronto to the San Gabriel Mountains.Yet it was in Los Angeles, on Christmas Eve 100 years ago, that Muir took leave of this world.


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