Pennsylvania Guard Offers Tours of Rare Butterfly Colony
American Forces Press Service
ANNVILLE, Pa., Jul. 7, 2008 For three days this month, the Pennsylvania National Guard will offer free guided tours of a rare butterfly colony at the Fort Indiantown Gap Training Center here.
Pennsylvania’s Fort Indiantown Gap Training Center is the home to the only viable colony of regal fritillary butterflies east of the Mississippi River. Photo courtesy of the Pennsylvania National Guard
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
The training center is the home to the only viable colony of regal fritillary butterflies east of the Mississippi River, according to a release from the state’s Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. Although not listed as an endangered species, the regal’s total population is small enough that it is listed as a federal species of concern.
The butterfly has flourished in the 17,000-acre training facility, and that is no accident.
“We’ve developed training scenarios and maps that identify the regal’s habitat as ‘mine fields,’ so the soldiers know to avoid them,” Joe Hovis, DMVA wildlife manager, said. “It’s these kinds of efforts which have turned this installation into what amounts to almost a 17,000-acre nature preserve.”
Known as one of the busiest training sites in the National Guard, the Fort Indiantown Gap team earned recognition earlier this year for having one of the top environmental science programs in the military. Last month, the team received the Secretary of Defense Environmental Award for Natural Resources Conservation, and in May, it received the 2007 Secretary of the Army Environmental Award, the Army’s highest honor in the field of environmental science.
The tours will begin at 9 a.m. on July 14 and 21, and at 1 p.m. on July 13. No reservations are required for the tours, which will last about two and a half hours. Interested persons should meet the tour guides at the Fort Indiantown Gap Community Club at Fisher and Clement avenues in Annville.
(From a Pennsylvania National Guard news release.)