Summer nature program kicks off

Bug lovers will get an up close look at the beetles, butterflies, ants and other crawlies that call Del Norte's sand dunes home on Sunday.

The Dune Bugs Hunt is the first in a series of summer nature programs sponsored by the Redwood Parks Association and Tolowa Dune Stewards.

Pete and Judy Haggard, who co-authored and photographed "Insects of the Pacific Northwest," begin the afternoon with a slideshow and then lead participants into the dunes, according to a Redwood Parks Association announcement. Folks will not only be able to identify the different insect species, they will learn how they benefit the dune ecosystem.

"He's done the program before, and he is a fascinating speaker," said Sue Calla, program coordinator for the Redwood Parks Association. "He worked for the state on insect control, and he's always been fascinated with insects and bugs."

Pete and Judy Haggard have written articles on native insects and plants for the California Native Plant Society's "Darlingtonia," "The Dunesberry," which is published by Friends of the Dunes and other local publications. The Haggards have also contributed articles and photos to the Regional Reports Northwest section of "Fine Gardening."

Pete Haggard leads regular native plant and insect tours for Friends of the Dunes in Arcata.

The bug hunt is the first in a series of nature programs and field trips the Redwood Parks Association and Tolowa Dunes Stewards will offer this summer. In addition to insects, Calla said, programs will focus on dune geology, rare butterflies and solitary bees. There will also be field trips focused on coast wildflowers, shorebirds and dune ecology and habitat diversity.

One program, led by biologist Wendell Wood, will feature a six-hour hike of the dunes, Calla said.

"It's called a biodiversity hike and it will start at the mouth of Lake Tolowa and go through all the different types of habitat including some of the open meadows up into the forested areas," she said. "Wendell has incredible knowledge of the area."

Folks will also be able to join the Tolowa Dunes Stewards as they restore the dunes by pulling invasive European beach grass. Other agencies and groups sponsoring and leading the programs include the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Park Service, the California Native Plant Society and the Redwood Region Audubon Society.

The Bug Hunt will start at 1 p.m. on Sunday at the Lake Earl Wildlife Area Information Center at 2591 Old Mill Road just outside Crescent City. Coffee and cookies will be available prior to the event at the Nature Store. Attendees are encouraged to wear comfortable walking shoes, a hat and bring drinking water and mosquito repellent.

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