The last stable population of the endangered Silverspot Butterfly in the world lives here in Tillamook County, on our own Mount Hebo. An audience numbering more than fifty from as far away as Eugene gathered at The Pelican Pub and Brewery in Pacific City Tuesday evening, February 19 for a presentation on the Silverspot. The event, scheduled to coincide with the regular meeting of the Nestucca Watersheds Council, was a joint effort between the Council and Hebo Stewardship Group for community education and outreach.
According to presenters Anne Walker and Michelle Dragoo scientists observed the first dangerous decrease in population for Silverspot Butterfly after an especially wet, cold spring in 1993. The Silverspot could once be found all along the Pacific coast from northern California clear into central Washington. Today there are only five known colonies of the endangered insect, and the only stable population lives on Mount Hebo. Less stable colonies survive at Cascade Head, Lake Earl, Ray’s Point, and Rock Creek.
A power point presentation illustrated the life cycle of the Silverspot. They hatch from tiny yellow eggs that winter under plant debris in native coastal meadows. Newly hatched caterpillars start out smaller that the letters imprinted on a penny. At this stage, (like the Monarch and Milkweed) the Silverspot depends on a single species of plant to survive. They feed exclusively on a wildflower, the Early Blue Violet (Viola adunca.) Coastal residents who want to support the survival of the Silverspot can plant the native violets, or the plants it needs as a butterfly, Dragoo suggested.
“One caterpillar can feed on more than two hundred violet leaves over the course of a spring,” she told the group. After the caterpillars transform through their life cycle into butterflies, their diet requires nectar plants. Four native species support them: Aster, Golden Rod, Pearly Everlasting, and Yarrow. Besides plantings to support the butterflies, community members who’d like to help the plight of the Silverspot may volunteer to assist with Maintenance at the Cascade Head site. Contact Watersheds Council Coordinator Alex Sifford, 503-965-2200 to get started.
“We really appreciate board member Stephanie Starostka Welch arranging the evening’s event with The Pelican Pub,” Council Coordinator Alex Sifford told the crowd earlier in the evening. “Pelican Pub has gone so far as to craft and named an Ale to benefit the endangered species, The Silverspot IPA, and it’s delicious!” he quipped.
As the audience sipped and snacked, Jane Booth, who is Hebo Stewardship Group’s Facilitator, explained the group’s makeup and purpose and invited community involvement. The Hebo Stewardship group includes folks with a stake in local natural resources including Cascade Pacific Resource Conservation and Development, Hebo Ranger District, Nestucca Watersheds Council, Oregon Wild, The Siletz Tribe, Tillamook Soli and Water Conservation District, United States Department of Fish and Wildlife, and local business people and residents. They meet monthly at 3:00 p.m. on the second Thursday, rotating between Driftwood Library in Lincoln City and the Pelican Pub in Pacific City. March 14 the meeting will be in Lincoln City; all are welcome.
The regular meeting of the Neskowin Nestucca Watersheds Council (NNWC) had kicked off the evening. Highlights include news that thrifty habits will allow for publication mailing of “The Flow,” the NNWC newsletter to postal patrons in the watershed. Upcoming council projects include restoration work on Butte Creek, Farmer Creek, and George Creek and a Bay Clean up scheduled from 8:30-Noon on Saturday, April 20. Community volunteers will gather at Bob Straub Park for assignments to clean up Nestucca Bay and the vicinity; everyone is invited.