Monday, Dec. 13, 2010; 1:18 p.m.
The El Segundo Butterfly Gets A Second Chance
Though humans are no longer able to enjoy the beachfront property formerly known as Surfridge, a portion of the land has been allocated to the El Segundo Butterly.
Most of the land once occupied by Surfridge is now the domain of the El Segundo butterfly. The land has remained mostly vacant once environmental groups realized its integral part in keeping this species of butterfly alive.
The El Segundo Butterfly is relatively small, less than 1 inch across, with blue dorsal wings and grey ventral sides. They also have a series of orange spots on the hind wing that appear as a band of color. Its was declared a federal endangered species in 1976, but through the work of the Urban Wildlands Group, it’s population has soared to over 50,000.
|Coast Buckwheat is the host plant of the El Segundo Butterfly and it must be protected from invasive species.
Los Angeles International airport has claimed much of the ESB’s original habitat through construction as well as local oil mining, sand refinery and urban development. The airport then converted a small portion of Surfridge into a butterfly habitat, fenced off from the public.
“The habitat is biologically sensitive and very unique environment, and is inhabited by a number of native animals and plants including Coast buckwheat which is the host plant of El Segundo Blue Butterfly,” said Nebu John, a project manager in the Environmental Services Division at Los Angeles World Airport, of the ecological importance of the dunes.
The airport, as part of a legal settlements with opponents to airport expansion, was required to spend $3 million on the removal of cement roads and planting of natural foliage on other parts of Surfridge, not part of the butterfly habitat.
Thus, plans to convert the land in a golf course, an airplane viewing area, and a natural sand dune preserve have been abandoned after they were approved by the airport and the city but denied by the California Coastal Commission.
“It was determined that this would be too much of a disturbance to the Blue Butterfly preserve,” said John.
|A sign is the only indication the land is the protected habitat of the ESB.
The airport also planted rows of palm trees along the Surfridge peremiter, which are not a native species and are therefore considered invasive. They were ordered to remove them by the California Coastal Commision.
The only other time Surfridge may be accessed is to weed out invasive species to save Coast Buckwheat.
The triumphs of the ESB can be contributed largely to the Urban Wildlands Group. Their efforts in advocating for the butterfly saved it from extinction and appropriated the lands in Surfridge for their survival.
But, according to Catherine Rich, Executive Officer of the Urban Wildlands Group, “contrary to popular belief, however, only a portion of the dunes is protected from development.”
The group envisions a full restoration of the 302 acres of the El Segundo Dunes, formerly known as Surfridge, at LAX.