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Jane Hendron - Carlsbad, CA (760) 431-9440 ext. 205

Service Releases Final Recovery Plan For Endangered Quino Checkerspot Butterfly

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has released the final recovery plan  for the endangered Quino checkerspot butterfly (Euphydryas editha quino), a once common species in southern California that has largely been eliminated as a result of habitat loss and fragmentation, and invasion of non-native species. The Quino checkerspot butterfly was listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act on January 17, 1997.

Quino checkerspot butterflies have a wingspan of about 1.5 inches with a red, black, and cream colored checkered pattern on the topside of the wing. The underside of the wing shows a red and cream checkered pattern. The species historically ranged throughout much of coastal California south of Ventura County and inland valleys south of the Tehachapi Mountains into northern Baja California, Mexico. In the United States, the butterfly is currently known to exist only in portions of Riverside and San Diego counties.

"This recovery plan provides a roadmap to aid in the species’ conservation," said Steve Thompson, Manager of the Service’s California/Nevada Operations Office. "There are numerous on-the-ground efforts to conserve habitat for the butterfly through the development of Habitat Conservation Plans and management of preserve areas established in conjunction with HCPs will be enhanced by the guidance in the recovery plan."

The purpose of the recovery plan is to outline specific activities that, if implemented, can help restore populations of the butterfly so that it may be downlisted from endangered to threatened by 2018. There are six Recovery Units for the Quino checkerspot butterfly, as follows:

Northwest Riverside - located south of Lake Mathews, east of Interstate 15 and west of Interstate 215 in Riverside County.

Southwest Riverside - this unit is east of Interstates 15 and 215, between the town of Winchester to the north and the urban areas of Temecula in Riverside County at the southern boundary of the unit.

South Riverside - includes areas between Hemet and the Palomar/Agua Tibia Mountains.

South Riverside/North San Diego - includes land between State Route 74 and the town of Warner Springs, straddling the border between Riverside and San Diego counties northeast of Palomar Mountain. Areas around the town of Anza and lands within the Cahuilla Indian Reservation are included in this unit.

Southwest San Diego - located in the southern portion of San Diego County along the Mexican border from Otay Mesa to the town of Tecate, extending northward to Proctor Valley and San Miguel Mountain.

Southeast San Diego - this unit is centered around the town of Jacumba and extends from Route 94 and the town of Campo along the western edge to portions of Imperial County on the eastern side of the unit, and north into Anza Borrego Desert State Park.

Each of the six recovery units supports one or more Quino checkerspot butterfly occurrence complexes (known occurrences of the species that lie within 0.6 miles of each other) as well as additional areas for dispersal and connectivity between occurrence complexes. The recovery units will serve as the focus for managing efforts to conserve the butterfly.

One or more additional recovery units could be identified in the future that would include areas within the historic range of the Quino checkerspot butterfly with suitable habitat to support the species. The areas where additional recovery units could be delineated are in central San Diego County, northwest San Diego County, and Orange County.

Specific actions considered necessary to achieve recovery goals of the Quino checkerspot butterfly include (1) protecting and managing remaining habitat that occurs in known population distributions of the species in a configuration that will support resilient megapopulations (large networks of populations that support the species) in the recovery units; (2) conducting yearly reviews and monitoring as part of adaptive management activities until resilient occurrence complexes or populations are achieved; (3) assessing and possibly augmenting the lowest density populations; (4) establishing a captive rearing and propagation program; (5) developing and implementing community outreach and education efforts; and (6) conducting research required to determine delisting criteria and to guide conservation efforts.

Recovery plans are not regulatory documents and they do not obligate non-Federal entities to implement measures to help recover threatened or endangered species, however, they do identify specific actions and opportunities for cooperative State, local, and private entities to conserve threatened and endangered species.

Approximately 171,605 acres of land in Riverside and San Diego counties was designated as critical habitat for the Quino checkerspot butterfly in April 2002. The areas designated as critical habitat are contained within the six Recovery Unit boundaries.

The Quino checkerspot butterfly recovery plan was developed by the Service with the assistance and input of a Recovery Team comprised of individuals with expertise relevant to the species. A draft copy of the recovery plan was released for public review and comment in February 2001.

A notice announcing the availability of the final recovery plan was published in the Federal Register on September 17, 2003. Copies of the final recovery plan are available electronically or by contacting the Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office at 760/431-9440. Additional information about the recovery plan and the Quino checkerspot butterfly are available on the Internet at

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System which encompasses 542 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 70 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resource offices and 81 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces Federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Aid program that distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.

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