Checkerspot on the news

Michael Gates Gates at
Sun May 7 10:48:17 EDT 2000

A few comments on a few responses...

Doug Yanega wrote:
>>Would that be the Chalcedon checkerspot, do you think?
>No, it would Euphydryas e. editha, known as the Bay Checkerspot 
>Five years with no sightings is certainly possible on an inhabited piece of
>property, though it all depends on the credibility of the consultants doing
>the surveys. One certainly does hear of consulting firms who conveniently
>fail to report positive sightings, or contract out to marginally competent
>field people who don't do a thorough job of surveying.

I agree 100% Doug.  Some consultants can't help the fact that they don't have 
years of experience with butterflies, but they get permitted for survey work 
and are legitimately trying to increase their knowledge about their natural
history, etc. Bravo! However, there are slimebags in developers' pockets who
will say anything for a buck.  It reminds me of a site near Temecula in S.
two years ago that was surveyed by a "biostitute" who reported that no
was to be seen for the listed Quino Checkerspot Butterfly.  This site had been
partially graded. A legitimate biologist went out a few days later (on his own
dime) and found exceptional hostplant populations growing in and around the
left by the grader! I can confirm this because I saw it a couple days after

Pierre Plauzoles wrote:
>the Los Angeles area (Playa Vista, Bel-Air Crest, developments on Palos
>Paninsula, along Mulholland Highway in the western Santa Monica Mountains,
in >Santa Clarita and Antelope Valley, etc) that I do tend to be a tad
skeptical >where developers, their methods and intentions where wildlife
are concerned 

Only a tad skeptical?  I'm downright suspicious! Although the majority of
developers follow the surveying laws and go through the whole rigamorole,
it's the few bad apples that casts a foul shadow upon development as a
whole.  I worked on an absolutely gorgeous site E. of San Diego that had
been completely denuded of vegetation.  On one side was beautiful coastal
succulent scrub (with several rare plants I might add) and on the other was
a bare wasteland.  Of course, they just hired a high-powered attorney to
fend off USFWS's feeble protests.  In my opinion, the only time that
developers will care a whit about the environment is when it affects them
directly. A general example of this is a recent sewage leak in the vicinity
of Huntington Beach that closed the beach, smelled bad, etc. All the rich
folks living along the beach brought considerable resources and political
pressure to bear on the mayor, etc. and the problem was removed from their
perception and everything goes back to 'normal'. 

>(whether the wildlife be elk, blue butterflies, bats, some flower-loving
fly or >a rare lizard makes no difference to me.  They all deserve *some*
attention from >us before we go trashing their homes: we should at least
make a good faith >effort to find out what is actually "out there" before
we trash a place.

Yes.  Endangered species are a symptom of what is going wrong,
environmentally speaking.  Ok, so maybe an endangered fly isn't as sexy as
some of our rare megafauna that captures the public's heart, but both point
to the same problem: habitat degradation.  In the US, we focus too much on
the 'species' that is dying out rather than the 'habitat' in which it
lives.  Who knows, would more land area be preserved if we tried protecting
habitats rather than species? 

Mike Gochfeld wrote:
>We are in the process of validating (or invalidating) an EIS submitted 
>for a 50A (20 Ha) plot of second growth woodland.  The EIS was a 
>travesty. It's not surprising that it might have overlooked a threatened 
>species of Skipper (since the listing hadn't occurred yet and the 
>skipper is only active for about two weeks in late summer), but they 
>listed fewer than 20 trees, 20 breeding birds, no herps etc. 

>I remember someone once saying that EIS were a deadly enemy because once 
>completed they took on a life of their own and became official, 
>regardless of the credentials of people who challenged them. 

True. Part of the problem stems from the bureaucrats who are responsible for
decisions based upon EILs having no experience and/or training in biological
issues like endangered species, conservation biology, habitat restoration and
no desire to improve their knowledge with a little reading.  Plus,
(read 'preserve habitat') decisions can 'rock the boat' and cause friction,
a GS15 might not want to do as it could threaten all he has worked so hard
for (benefits,
fat-cat salary, etc.).

On a final note in my diatribe, I'd be interested in knowing what everyone
thinks about
the latest USFWS decision to allow permitted biologists to capture, and
handle and remove the 
endangered Quino Checkerspot to facilitate identification in areas outside
the indicated survey areas
(ostensibly to allow for increased info. on distribution, undiscovered
populations etc.)? You can check out their PDF protocol at: (see pages 6-7).


Mike Gates

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