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Author Topic: El Segundo Blue Butterflies making a comeback  (Read 642 times)

Dark Waters

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El Segundo Blue Butterflies making a comeback
« on: March 06, 2013, 09:18:22 pm »
El Segundo Blue butterflies are making a nice comeback at Surfridge

Los Angeles Times Article

Developed in the 1920s and 1930s, Surfridge was an isolated playground of the wealthy, among the last communities built on miles of sand dunes that once dominated the coast. Hollywood elites built homes here that commanded views from Palos Verdes to Malibu.

The small airfield to the east that opened in 1928 was a good place to see an air show. It would take nearly two decades for it to become the city's primary airport.

Today, Surfridge is a Los Angeles curiosity — a modern ghost town inhabited by a rare butterfly.

The El Segundo blue butterfly was near extinction when the last of Surfridge's 800 homes were removed in the early 1970s, the victim of an expanding Los Angeles International Airport.

In the decades since, the federally protected endangered species has made a comeback due to the establishment of a 200-acre butterfly preserve managed by the city. Nonnative plants were removed and native buckwheat — where the butterflies feed and lay their eggs — was reintroduced.

Now, more than 125,000 butterflies take flight each summer, unfazed by the constant thunder of jets overhead.

LAX may have wiped Surfridge off the map, but the airport has turned out to be a perfect neighbor for a growing community of butterflies.

"It's a remarkable recovery," said Richard Arnold, an entomologist who has worked as a consultant at the preserve. "But you've got to realize that insects have a remarkable reproductive capacity if their natural food source is there."

Soon there will be more. The California Coastal Commission recently approved a $3-million plan to restore portions of 48 acres at the northern end of the old subdivision. The project is part of a settlement of a lawsuit between LAX and surrounding cities over the airport's expansion plans.

Some streets, curbs, sidewalks, home foundations and utilities visible to neighboring homeowners will be removed. Six acres will be reseeded with native plants — sagebrush and goldenbush, primrose, poppies and salt grass among them — that will return this sliver of dunes back to where it was a century ago.
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