|A range mitigation project at Fort McCoy means Soldiers
can train on a new, upgraded range, while an endangered species of
butterfly still has sufficient habitat.
Tim Wilder, installation Endangered Species biologist, said the
mitigation project to create an alternate habitat for the Karner blue
butterfly became necessary with the building of a 1,000 meter
known-distance firing range. Karner blue butterflies, which are about
the size of a quarter, are a federally endangered species found at Fort
Tim Wilder, Fort McCoy Endangered Species biologist, uses a
Bobcat to create a Karner blue butterfly plant habitat section
as part a mitigation project in the far northeast corner of Fort
McCoy. Volunteer John Polk prepares to assist the seeding by
(Photo by Rob Schuette)
“When we sat down to see where to locate the new known-distance
range, there were only so many places it could be located (due to
land-use and environmental considerations),” Wilder said. “The best
place was adjacent to Range 18, where a known Karner blue butterfly
Initially, 14 acres would have been affected, Wilder said. After some
reworking of the proposal, the affected habitat was reduced to four
The Fort McCoy Natural Resources Branch (NRB) program, in cooperation
with the Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security (DPTMS),
found another location in the far northeast corner of the post to create
habitat being lost due to the new range project, he said.
DPTMS training officials agreed the proposed location for the new Karner
blue butterfly habitat would not affect training opportunities. Wilder
said some Karner blue butterflies already were in the area, so it was a
matter of expanding the existing habitat.
Karner blue butterflies need wild lupine plants to support the larvae
stage of the life cycle, he said. NRB personnel tilled the land and are
planting wild lupine seeds. McCoy harvests its own wild lupine seeds,
which can cost several hundred dollars per pound if purchased
The seeding is done on a ratio of about two pounds of wild lupine seed
“This is a good time of year to plant the seeds because they can take
advantage of the freeze/thaw cycle this coming winter and spring and
then germinate in April 2013,” Wilder said.
The desired result is the plants would fully bloom in two years and be
supporting the Karner blue butterfly population, Wilder said.
The seeding is done in narrow sections about 20-by-3 meters each. When
the wild lupine takes hold, it is hoped the habitat area will further
expand itself without any additional manmade assistance, he added.
Plants providing nectar for the adult Karner blue butterflies also are
being added to the mitigation area to support the population. Wilder
said adult Karner blue butterflies live for only about five to seven
days. Although these butterflies live only a short time, the adults need
flowering plants, such as butterfly weed and lead plant, to nectar on.
Fort McCoy has one of the largest Karner blue butterfly populations in
the state and country, and management practices used by the installation
help the butterfly prosper, Wilder said. The installation documented the
first Karner blue butterfly in 1990 and has been actively managing the
species for more than 15 years.
The installation also has several other thriving animal/mammal species
on state or federal concern, endangered or threatened lists, including
gray wolves and bald eagles, and several insects including other
butterflies, he said.
Mark McCarty, chief of the NRB, said the mitigation project demonstrates
that environmental stewardship can coexist with and support the
installation’s training needs.
Sound environmental practices and proactive natural resource management
also help ensure Fort McCoy’s land will be able to support Army training
needs for future generations, he said.