KITZMILLER — Land-owners in the Kitzmiller area operating as Woodhill, LLC have decided to protect 15 acres that are home to rare butterflies through a conservation easement with the Maryland Environmental Trust and the Allegheny Highlands Conservancy.
Woodhill Sanctuary contains habitat for several rare, threatened or endangered butterfly species, including the official state butterfly.
The Baltimore checkerspot was designated the official insect of Maryland in 1973, and while once common in the region, the species has experienced significant de-clines in recent years. Woodhill Sanctuary is now one of only eight known Baltimore checkerspot colonies remaining in Maryland.
According to Jennifer Frye, ecologist with the Maryland Department of Natural Re-sources, the protection of Woodhill Sanctuary “ensures the preservation of this critical and uncommon habitat which currently supports at least five butterfly species included on the list of rare, threatened and endangered animals in Maryland.”
LLC trustee Vlad Dupre and his late wife, Elizabeth, have stewarded the property for more than 25 years. Though Dupre was unaware of the unique nature of the habitat on the property, he was pleased to learn of the option to protect the property with a conservation easement. The easement protects the rare habitat by requiring a habitat management plan to guide the maintenance of the area.
“My family and I are thrilled to contribute to the preservation of these endangered species of butterflies,” said Dupre. “We consider it a privilege to be a part of the efforts of the Maryland Environmental Trust to maintain and manage natural habitats for the people of Maryland to enjoy and learn from.”
Gov. Martin O’Malley joined the conservation groups in thanking the Garrett County landowners for their foresight.
“I want to thank Woodhill LLC for their generous donation,” said O’Malley. “By preserving this butterfly sanctuary we are helping ensure that future generations fully experience Maryland’s rich wildlife and natural wonder.”