Happy Earth Day!
2019-04-22 10:07:30.000 – Chloe Boehm, Summit Intern
Today is Earth Day which means it is a great day to recognize the beautiful planet we live on and the vast number of species that inhabit the planet with us. Living and working on the top of Mount Washington gives us the unique opportunity to experience the extreme weather that this area sees as well see the incredible sights on a daily basis. Not many places in the world can you go from a day of sunny skies and light winds to recording a peak wind gust of 142 mph in less than a week. The snow has started to melt the last few days, allowing the colors of the rocks and sedge grass to poke through, quickly transforming our home from a wintry tundra to a more welcoming colorful place. Many of us have been taking the opportunity the past few days to explore this recently thawed environment, finding a seemingly infinite number of little rivers caused by the melting snow along with alpine flowers starting to pop up.
The theme of this year’s Earth Day is Protect Our Species. The White Mountains in particular are home to a very special type of butterfly called the White Mountain Fritillary. This butterfly can only be found in the alpine zone of the Presidential Range and changes in its habitat in the past several years has caused this species to be considered endangered. It takes a lot to survive in this particular environment so it is truly incredible that butterflies with wing spans of less than one-and-a-half inches can survive the fierce weather of Mount Washington.
White Mountain Fritillary. Photo courtesy of Vermont Center for Ecostudies.
The Appalachian Mountain Club has conducted projects to study these butterflies, trying to learn more about them and how to protect them and their habitat from future harm, and will likely continue such projects in the future. Since the alpine zone of the Presidentials is a relatively small area, we must do all we can to help protect the environment to make sure that these butterflies, that adapted to survive the extreme weather, still have a place to live. So next time you are out hiking or exploring the White Mountains, keep an eye out for these beautiful creatures and make sure you are doing your part to keep their habitat safe!
Chloe Boehm, Summit Intern