Postcard from Cloudcroft

A rare butterfly has pitted a tiny tourist town against the "bug huggers" trying to save its habitat--again. On a wing and a prayer at 9,000 ft.

Mert Kerim

On a wing and a prayer at 9,000 feet

The Sacramento mountains checkerspot butterfly is unique, found in all the world only on 2,000 acres of high meadow in the village of Cloudcroft, N.M. (pop. 768, altitude 8,640 ft.), and the adjoining Lincoln National Forest. The 2-in. checkerspot colorfully floods Burro Street, Cloudcroft's main drag, every summer, and it takes its scientific name--Euphydryas anicia cloudcrofti--from the town that shares its habitat.

But when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced in December that it would begin an investigation into whether the butterfly, with an estimated population of 5,000, deserves protection under the Endangered Species Act, Cloudcroft residents did anything but...

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