Early-blue violets to the rescue…

<p>Restoring native violets to a portion of Willapa National Wildlife Refuge may also bring back an endangered Pacific Northwest butterfly species.</p><p></p>

Early-blue violets are blooming in the Tarlatt Unit where a small number of Willapa National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) volunteers, and a local sixth grade class, braved the winter winds and rain to plant them as part of a rescue plan for the Oregon silverspot.

The Oregon silverspot is a butterfly that has been classified as a federally threatened species since 1980. It was once found in coastal grasslands near the Pacific Ocean from Washington to Northern California. Now this butterfly is restricted to only a few locations in Oregon and California. Loss and degradation of habitat are the main reasons its existence is threatened.

The Oregon silverspot depends on the Early-blue violet (Viola adunca) for nourishment for its caterpillars or larvae, and nectar in the spring for adult butterflies. However, planting the violet to help restore the butterflyÂ’s habitat is only the first step in helping this beautiful insect to survive. The next step is to take butterflies to their new digs. The refuge is hoping to accomplish this in a few years as the habitat is restored. Both the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle and the Oregon Zoo in Portland raise Silverspots in captivity and work closely with partner, such as the Willapa NWR, to release the pupae and/or larvae into the wild at sites where violet habitat exists or is being restored. This program is helping to ensure that the Silverspot does not become extinct by stabilizing declining populations.

The Willapa NWR is doing its part to ensure the survival of a species on the brink of extinction. To learn more about this initiative or to become a volunteer for the Willapa National Wildlife Refuge Complex go to www.fws.gov/refuge/willapa

Willapa National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1937 to protect migrating and wintering populations of brant, waterfowl, shorebirds and other migratory birds and their habitat. Willapa NWR is one of over 550 refuges in the National Wildlife Refuge System, a nationwide network of lands managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service specifically for wildlife. The System is a living heritage, conserving wildlife and habitat for people today and for generations to come. Learn more at www.fws.gov.

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