ATOP A SMALL MOUNTAIN

Head up the hill near 14th Avenue in the Sunset and you will wind your way into Golden Gate Heights and its surrounding and steep bluffs.  An adorable neighborhood with pockets of native plants still present, some folks have taken it upon themselves to return more unused land  back to its natural habitat.  Before the Sunset and Richmond area of San Francisco were developed, they were miles of dunes and bluffs home to Coast Buckwheat, Seaside Daisies and other geographically specific plants, animals and insects.

A GREEN BUTTERFLY ROAMS

One of the inhabitants of this unique ecosystem is the Green Hairstreak Butterfly.  A shimmering sage colored floater with white antennae and a flair for the camera, the Green Hairstreak Butterfly can only survive if she has her larval plant, the Coast Buckwheat to lay eggs on.  The delicate joining of plant and insect is precious, original and historical.  Through the work of Nature In the City, a local nonprofit, the corridor of native plants restored to the Golden Gates Heights area has proven its impact already.  Many of the initial plants for the project were donated by the native plant nursery at Kezar.  On our visit last Friday, we encountered three different green hairstreaks at the corner of 14th Avenue and Pacheco Street.

BUILD IT AND THEY WILL COME

The extraordinary thing about ecological systems is how well they work.  There is a certain simplicity in the earth’s natural systems, pairing plants with water and wind cycles and watching how they support a specific set of living creatures.  There is also a satisfying sense of power, as a human, to restore an ecological system back to its more primal form.  The result seems to be a good partnership between people and the planet, full of impact and inclusive of nature.

THANKS MIKE BELCHER, BUTTERFLY GUY

It was an absolute treat to explore and interact with the ever blossoming habitat restoration program for the Green Hairstreak Butterfly near Golden Gate Heights.  We commend Mike Belcher for his dutiful stewardship of this program’s plots and for spending the morning showing us around the hill.  Today’s video gives you a look into this project and captures our own sighting of the Green Hairstreak Butterfly that day.  Totally proud of his work, Mike was also missing the others who help bring this project to life and was sure to send along the following to highlight some of the major people involved in this unique and successful restoration project along with mention of another significant sighting at the 14th and Pacheco site the very next day.

From Mike: “Hello Soumyaa, It sure was a special day, and it continued the next day when I returned to 14th and Pacheco and observed a female actually laying eggs on one of the coast buckwheats!  This is the ultimate goal of the restoration project, to increase the habitat and population of the Green Hairstreak.  As far as people to mention: First, Liam O’Brien the butterfly expert whose vision started the project.  Nature in the City, the non-profit organization run by Peter Brastow with Melanie Trelles and Deidre Martin, who took this vision and made it a reality with the help of dedicated volunteers like Sarah McConico (Steward of the site at 14th and Pacheco), Barbara Kobayashi, Matt Zlatnich and others.  Also a big shout out to Ed Dunn and Greg Gaar from HANC for providing many of the native plants for the restoration projects.  Thanks again and best of luck to you and HANC. ”