Over the last few years, I’ve been working together with the Friends of the San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge and science illustrator Nicole Wong on a children’s book – Sardis and Stamm – about the Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge and the federally endangered Lange’s metalmark butterfly. The story is about a young girl – Sardis – who comes across Stamm, a wayward Lange’s metalmark butterfly that has found itself blown beyond the relict sands of the Antioch Dunes. As this unlikely hero returns the battered butterfly across the dunes to a cloud of metalmarks looking to lay their eggs, the pair stumble into a hidden world filled with plasterer bees and katydids, legless lizards and robber flies – many of which can be found nowhere else on Earth but at the Antioch Dunes.
Sardis & Stamm was realized through the backing, financial, and technical support of friends and sponsors that include the Contra Costa County Fish and Wildlife Committee Propagation Fund, administered by the Contra Costa County Fish and Wildlife Committee; the United States Fish and Wildlife Service; the Bohart Museum of Entomology (University of California, Davis); the California Academy of Sciences (Entomology); and the Essig Museum of Entomology (University of California, Berkeley).
The Friends will donate a portion of the first run of books published to local schools and libraries. Proceeds from the sale of the remaining books will be reinvested in the project to fund future printings of Sardis and Stamm. The plight of the Lange’s metalmark butterfly is dire: in 1999, the peak butterfly count numbered 2,342 in a single day; the 2012 peak was 32 butterflies, and to date 2013’s peak count was 28 individual butterflies. There has never been a more pressing time to get the word out about the Antioch Dunes and the Lange’s metalmark butterfly than there is today.
If you want to learn more about the project and the upcoming book, which we hope to have in our hands shortly before Thanksgiving, or about the Antioch Dunes in general and the history and natural history of the dunes’ rare and endemic flora and fauna, please visit: http://sardisandstamm.wordpress.com/.