Threatened Beetle Protected by Girl Scouts of the Chesapeake Bay - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Threatened Beetle Protected by Girl Scouts of the Chesapeake Bay

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Puritan Tiger Beetle (Photo: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) Puritan Tiger Beetle (Photo: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)
 EARLEVILLE, Md. - Girl Scouts of the Chesapeake Bay are working together to protect a threatened beetle on Maryland's Eastern Shore.

Puritan tiger beetles have declined in population size and distribution in their Chesapeake Bay range. According to the Chesapeake Bay Field office of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service, the remaining Chesapeake Bay populations are highly susceptible to habitat loss or degradation.

The Girl Scouts of America organization say more than 170 acres on Girl Scouts of the Chesapeake Bay's Camp Grove Point in Earleville, Maryland, is protected with a conservation easement that puts the recovery of the beetle within reach. The property's 2,200 feet of eroding cliffs at the mouth of the Sassafras River provide the unique habitat needed by the beetle, says wildlife officials.

"We are taking a significant step forward in recovering the Puritan tiger beetle, whose largest global population is found in the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland," said Genevieve LaRouche, Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Chesapeake Bay Field Office. "This partnership illustrates the important role of local groups and landowners in the conservation of our rare native wildlife."

The Girl Scouts of the Chesapeake Bay say that for many years, the Girl Scouts have acted as caretakers for the beetle population at Camp Grove Point and have received hands-on education regarding the Puritan tiger beetle and other Chesapeake Bay wildlife.  They say, every year, hundreds of Girl Scouts attend day and residential summer camps and participate in troop camping throughout the year.

"Good stewardship of our land is an important part of Girl Scouting," said Anne T. Hogan, CEO of Girl Scouts of Chesapeake Bay.   

"Rich with diverse wetlands and upland forests of oak, tulip poplar, beech and hickory, the new easement will permanently protect the area's sensitive ecosystem," said Maryland Department of Natural Resources Secretary Joe Gill. "By preserving this critical landscape we can help guarantee the future of the Puritan tiger beetle, as well as an array of wildlife including osprey, eagle, deer, fox and many migratory songbirds."   

Wildlife officials say permanent protection of this land will help stabilize six large sub-populations and their habitats in the Chesapeake Bay. This will meet one of the federal criteria required for recovery of this species. With the protections on the Girl Scout property, wildlife officials say four sub-populations will be protected in Maryland.

"Preservation of this property not only means protection of a unique ecological site," said Jared Parks, Eastern Shore Land Conservancy Land Protection Specialist. "It preserves a place where generations of girls can go to explore the outdoors and learn about nature with a great organization devoted to building character and strength."

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, development and stabilization projects are the most serious threats to this species in Maryland. Puritan tiger beetles undergo their entire life cycle on or near cliffs and adjacent sandy beaches, and require some cliff erosion to maintain suitable habitat conditions. Shoreline stabilization structures minimize erosion at the base of the bluff, which over time makes the slopes less steep and allows vegetation to grow. This makes the habitat unsuitable for the beetles.

The Girl Scouts of the Chesapeake Bay, partners with the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy, Maryland Department of Natural Resources Program "Open Space" and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Chesapeake Bay Field Office to conserve the Puritan Tiger Beetle's habitat.

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