BC Parks licence plate program helps restore endangered Hornby Island butterfly habitat

The licence plate program has generated more than $16 million since it began in 2017 and supports a variety of projects, including habitat restoration for the Taylor's Checkerspot butterfly in Helliwell Provincial Park on Hornby Island, the province said. || B.C. government photo
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British Columbians have supported over 275 conservation and education projects through the BC Parks Licence Plate Program, which has now surpassed 250,000 specialty licence plate sales.

“People in B.C. are passionate about our provincial parks and that passion has helped us reach another significant milestone for the BC Parks Licence Plate Program,” said Kelly Greene, parliamentary secretary for the ministry of environment and climate change strategy. 

The licence plate program has generated more than $16 million since it began in 2017 and supports a variety of projects, including habitat restoration for a rare butterfly species in Helliwell Provincial Park on Hornby Island, the province said.

Five years ago, a large team of scientists, BC Parks staff, conservation groups, volunteers and members of the local K’ómoks First Nation began restoring the coastal landscape in Helliwell Provincial Park with hopes the endangered Taylor’s Checkerspot butterfly would return to its former home. The small orange and black butterflies were last seen in the park in the early 1990s.

Extensive work went into restoring the coastal bluff ecology, which involved removing conifers and invasive plants and planting native species that provide food for larvae and nectar for adult butterflies. Last year, approximately 800 larvae were released in Helliwell Provincial Park’s restored coastal bluff meadow. Another 1,300 were placed in the park this March, according to the province. Several Taylor’s Checkerspot have now been seen flying around the park, signalling the successful return of the rare species.

“I was thrilled to see my first checkerspot flying in the park. It feels really good to be helping restore an ecosystem and seeing years of effort by so many begin to come to fruition,” said Neil Wilson from the Hornby Island Natural History Centre, which co-ordinated with volunteers and students to place native plants grown for the project into the park. 

“It’s important to see K’ómoks people help in the project by giving guidance with their traditional knowledge and to see children and community members doing their part. I find it very rewarding to be taking part.”

Licence plate sales have also supported wildlife inventories, Indigenous interpretive signage in parks and along trails, invasive species management and educational programming, as well as restoration of trails and sensitive ecosystems.

The BC Parks Licence Plate Program is a partnership between the province and ICBC. Motorists can choose one of three specialty plate designs depicting scenes from B.C.’s parks and protected areas. 

The province said proceeds from the sale and renewals of the specialty plates are reinvested into provincial parks through the Park Enhancement Fund – a special account where revenues enhance programs or services in provincial parks beyond the core services provided by government.

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