Help Save Lange’s Metalmark Butterfly, One of Antioch’s Endangered Species, this Saturday

Supporter of Lang’s Metalmark Butterfly, enjoy a kite flying event on Saturday, August 18, 2012 at City Park in Antioch.

By Allen Payton, Publisher & Matti Switz

Rachael Van Schoik is part of a group working to conserve the Lange’s Metalmark butterfly, one of Antioch’s own endangered species. It is a beautiful animal only the size of a quarter and is found only at the Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge, the only Wildlife Refuge set up for the protection of an insect.

Only 32 adults saw it last year” stated Van Schoik. She and her group want ensure more people can see one.

So following on the heels of the Metalmark Kite Festival last Saturday, August 18, they’re hosting a restoration field day this Saturday, August 25 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Dunes.

The public is invited to “Come get your hands dirty and pull weeds to help clean the reserve where the butterfly is found,” Van Schoik said. “Attendees will be provided lunch and entered into a raffle for Bay Area museum tickets and other cool prizes.”

At the kite festival, Antioch families and friends joined together at City Park to show their support for the critically endangered butterfly.

Children painted kites and drew pictures of the butterfly, and Refuge managers came to talk about how people could help and ways to get involved. As parents, children, and neighbors enjoyed face painting, free kites, food and drinks, fake butterfly tattoos and magnets, they wrote and colored letters asking the California Energy Commission, GenOn, and PG&E to make sure that the butterflies and community remains healthy and safe. These letters will be delivered by the same Save the Metalmark campaign group who organized the festival, a team affiliated with the Tatzoo Bootcamp, a non-profit group that aims to bring attention to local endangered species in the surrounding bay area.

“In the past several years, the California Energy Commission has authorized three new power plants within one mile of the existing Contra Costa County Power Plant in Antioch. These approvals would leave Antioch with one of the largest concentrations of power plant emissions in the Bay Area. While the energy will be distributed to San Francisco and other urban areas, the concentrated emissions will threaten public health in nearby communities and push the Lange’s metalmark butterfly, whose last wild habitats will be partially surrounded by power plants, closer than ever to extinction.”

Attendees were asked to pledge their support to spend at least one day doing some much needed restoration work at the dunes. Those able to come to this week’s weeding party are entered in a raffle to win free prizes donated by bay area museums and various community organizations.

Lange’s Metalmark butterfly – photo by U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Though perhaps a small symbolic gesture, the 30 or so kites that flew in the air Saturday remind us that there is hope that the butterflies can still make a comeback. With a small investment of tender love and care, we can make sure these butterflies stay with us for the foreseeable future. Antioch, and the Contra Costa and entire Bay Area has a real chance to say “no to pollution!” and “no to extinction!” where the effect can be felt for generations to come.

According to the Antioch Dunes’ website, the refuge was established in 1980 and “provides protection for three endangered species: Lange’s Metalmark butterfly, Antioch Dunes evening primrose and Contra Costa wallflower. The refuge and a few acres of surrounding lands contain most of the remaining habitat for these three species and are all that remain of a nine kilometer stretch of sand dunes formed during glaciation periods.”

The butterfly and the primrose are symbiotic, meaning they both depend on each other, to live.

If you are interested in counting butterflies or volunteering at the Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge, call (707) 769-4200, or go to The Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge is closed to the public but docent-led tours are at 10 a.m. the second Saturday of every month.

If you would like to know more about the Save the Metalmark Campaign, or come to the restoration party, you can see their website at

You can also pledge your support to help at the dunes by clicking here.


the attachments to this post:

Lang’s Metalmark Butterfly kite event

Lange’s Metalmark butterfly – USFWS

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