CONTACT:
Heidi Holman: (603) 271-0467
Jane Vachon: (603) 271-3211 or 271-5619
Marilyn Wyzga: (603) 271-1197
May 15, 2007

NOTE TO MEDIA - To arrange to cover one of the lupine planting sessions, please contact Heidi Holman, at (603) 271-2461 or email heidi.l.holman@wildlife.nh.gov; or Liza Poinier at (603) 271-3211 or liza.w.poinier@wildlife.nh.gov.

Concord Schoolchildren and New England Zoos Participate in Karner Blue Butterfly Restoration

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CONCORD, N.H. -- Many helping hands are involved in the effort to restore New Hampshire's state butterfly to the Concord Pine Barrens, one of two locations in New England able to meet the endangered insect's specialized habitat needs. Students representing every Concord public school, as well as South Meadow School in Peterborough, will participate in a planting project May 21-23, 2007. Staff from the New England Zoo Conservation Collaborative will pitch in on May 30, 2007, to plant more of the native lupine and other nectar-producing plants that the endangered Karner blue butterflies rely on to survive.

The Karner blue butterfly is both New Hampshire's State Butterfly and the Concord City Butterfly. Its restoration to the remaining pine barrens plant community in the Concord, N.H., area has involved a collaborative effort between state and local government agencies, non-profit organizations, private businesses and civic groups. Restoration efforts are focused at the Karner Blue Butterfly Conservation Easement, part of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service's Great Bay Wildlife Refuge, located at the end of Chenell Drive (an educational kiosk near the site explains the Karner project). The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department's Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Program oversees Karner blue restoration efforts in the state.

The upcoming planting activities mark the eighth year of an ongoing partnership between Fish and Game, Concord Schools' Project SEE (Science Enrichment Encounters) and the National Wildlife Federation. "Over the 8 years that we have been involved in this project, students have seen the Karner blue butterfly move from extirpation in 2001 towards recovery," said Fish and Game Wildlife Educator Marilyn Wyzga. "As they arrived to plant their lupine in 2005, students had the rare experience of watching a biologist net, tag and release a wild Karner blue butterfly in the easement. This endangered species success story has provided the students with real-life experience in saving a local species."

May 21-23, 2007 -- Some 28 classes of Concord area schoolchildren (pre-school through 9th grade) will be at the Easement to help plant native lupine and New Jersey tea (another pine barrens plant) that they raised from seed in their classrooms. "This is a major expansion of our collaborative work with Concord area schools - topping our record of 18 classes by a third," said Wyzga. "Also new this year, the students are growing New Jersey tea, a native shrub that provides nectar for adult Karners." Ninth graders from Concord High School will help prepare the site and will assist younger students with planting. Volunteers from Fish and Game Wonders of Wildlife and UNH Cooperative Extension Tree Stewards programs assisted the students in classroom seed planting and will be on site to help them plant out the mature lupines.

May 23, 2007, from 9:00 a.m. - 1:45 p.m. -- In a unique partnership with the business community, Concord High School ninth graders will plant lupine and other native nectar plants on the grounds of New Hampshire Distributors, located adjacent to the Easement and a long-time partner in the Karner restoration project. Science teacher Donna Reardon has been helping her Concord High School students prepare for these activities by having them complete research projects on the best medium for raising native lupine plants from seed, as well as studying the Karner blue butterfly and pine barrens habitat in the classroom. Her students will complete the service-learning project with the help of Antioch University New England graduate student, Aleta McKeage.

May 30, 2007 -- The New England Zoo Conservation Collaborative will hold a planting day at the airport. In preparation, the Boston Museum of Science, Beardsley Zoo (CT), Roger Williams Park Zoo (RI), Franklin Zoo (MA) and Buttonwood Zoo (MA) all have had horticultural teams propagating lupine and nectar sources such as New Jersey tea and blunt-leaved milkweed for habitat restoration efforts at the Concord Pine Barrens.

The collaborative project has helped Fish and Game implement a key component of its habitat management plan for Karner blue butterflies. "Area schools have not only dived enthusiastically into this learning opportunity, but they have made a significant contribution to the Karner project," said Heidi Holman, a Fish and Game wildlife biologist who works on pine barrens habitat restoration and Karner blue butterfly conservation. "The lupines raised in participating classrooms and planted at the Easement support small subpopulations of Karners through all their life stages."

Area teachers seem equally excited about the project. "It's a fabulous program and the kids get so much out of it!" wrote Walker School Fourth Grade teacher Kris Cerami after participating last year. "I saw a girl who barely speaks or participates in the classroom come alive in her outdoor classroom. It's win-win all around. My kids know they are part of an important project."

"It makes you feel proud, because you are doing something that other members of your family, like maybe your own grandchildren, can come out here and enjoy someday. It shows everyone that kids can make a difference," wrote a "Kids for Karners" student who participated in the early years of the project.

The public should note that the native lupine being planted for the Karner blues on the Pine Barrens is different than the traditional garden lupine, "Wild lupine is a rare and protected plant in New Hampshire, so seed sources are not currently available," warns Wildlife Educator Marilyn Wyzga. "Homeowners who want to support butterflies in their own yards are encouraged to grow native plants that provide forage for caterpillars and nectar for adults and to avoid purchasing wild blue lupine seed from sources outside of the state. Since there is still a viable native population of wild lupine, it's better to keep that population intact rather than introducing other seed sources that might crossbreed."

To learn more about or to contribute to the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department's Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Program, click here.

To find out more about Fish and Game's Wildlife Education Programs, click here.

For additional background on the "Kids for Karners" project, see below.

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Additional background on the "Kids for Karners" project:

The Kids for Karners program was initiated in 2000 by the National Wildlife Federation with its Keep the Wild Alive campaign. This classroom education and conservation project invited the Concord, N.H., School District to become involved in this local effort to increase available host plants for the butterflies on the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) Karner Blue Butterfly Conservation Easement (located near Concord Airport), and to engage students in learning about and helping to restore an endangered species in their hometown. Partnering with New Hampshire Fish and Game, USFWS, and the Concord School District, the program introduced fourth graders to the Karner blue butterfly and the enterprise of raising wild lupine from seed and transplanting the seedlings to the easement. As the lupine seedlings grew in the classroom, students learned about butterfly ecology and life cycles, the important relationship between Karner blues and their host plants, the ecology of the Concord Pine Barrens and the concepts of endangered species, habitat and conservation.

The project began with four classrooms and has steadily grown each year to a total of 18 classrooms this year, including fifth grade students from Peterborough. Over the course of the project, more than 600 students in grades K-5 and high school have each cared for their own wild blue lupine plants and transplanted over 800 seedlings onto the easement. Each year, a special planting day is planned for the students. In this culminating service-learning event, N.H. Fish and Game and National Wildlife Federation staff, along with local volunteers, assist the students with the planting, giving the students an opportunity to apply what they have learned in the classroom to a real-life situation in their own community. Planting day is also a time for the students to take pride in helping to conserve the natural areas where they live.

Ninth grade science classes joined the effort in 2005, planting lupine, assisting younger students with planting on the Easement and helping with other restoration efforts on site.

The Dame School, which is situated on the historic Pine Barrens in Concord, N.H., has been involved in a special long-term workshop related to the project. The school has begun to create a lupine seed bank on their own site in their schoolyard, and has restored a portion of their school grounds to a pine barrens plant community.

Each year that Concord District Schools participated in the project, the District has integrated the service-learning experience with school curriculum and provided professional development training for participating teachers. This has included content and activities related to wildlife habitat, endangered species and pollinators; trainers have included Fish and Game biologists and National Wildlife Federation educators.

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