Local congressman supports new law to protect Monarch Butterfly
-Rep. Salud Carbajal (D–CA-24), announced on Wednesday that he has joined Rep. Jimmy Panetta (D-Carmel Valley) and Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon) in reintroducing the bipartisan, bicameral Monarch Action, Recovery, and Conservation of Habitat (MONARCH) Act as well as the Monarch and Pollinator Highway Act. Rep. Carbajal co-led the introduction of the two bills in the US House of Representatives.
The MONARCH Act would provide urgent protections for the struggling western monarch butterfly, an iconic and important butterfly whose population has dropped by 99-percent since the 1980s. This legislation would authorize $62.5 million for projects aimed at conserving the western monarch and an additional $62.5 million to implement the Western Monarch Butterfly Conservation Plan, which was prepared by the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies in January 2019. The $62.5 million in funding for each effort would be divided into five annual installments of $12.5 million.
The Monarch and Pollinator Highway Act would establish a federal grant program available to state departments of transportation and Native American tribes to carry out pollinator-friendly practices on roadsides and highway rights-of-way. This legislation would help address the steep decline of pollinator populations, which poses a serious threat to California farmers and the American food supply.
“The Pismo Beach Monarch Butterfly Grove in my district traditionally hosts the largest western monarch overwintering population in California, but when I went to visit recently there weren’t any monarchs to be found. The western monarch’s population has dropped by 99-percent over the last 30 years and, unless we act now, they are on a path to extinction,” said Rep. Carbajal. “The MONARCH Act and Monarch Pollinator Highway Act makes critical investments in conservation projects so we can restore their habitats and preserve this beloved pollinator for future generations to experience and enjoy.”
“For generations, we on the central coast of California have had a front-row seat to the migration of the monarch butterfly. Unfortunately, we are now witnessing the dramatic decline and potential extinction of this magnificent pollinator all across North America,” said Congressman Panetta. “The MONARCH Act and Monarch and Pollinator Highway Act would provide the funding for the necessary investments to research and restore the habitats of the monarch butterfly. Our legislation is a small example of how we must continue to fight the effects of the climate crisis by working to preserve the future of a species that means so much to our ecosystem and to us on the Central Coast.”
“We’ve all experienced the moment of childhood joy and excitement when we spot a butterfly dancing in the air,” said Senator Merkley. “If we let the western monarch butterfly go extinct, we’ll lose a unique, beautiful species forever. Every day that we don’t implement experts’ conservation plans inches us a little closer to that reality. We can’t let that happen.”
“With fewer than 2,000 western monarchs recorded overwintering in California this year, these beautiful, iconic butterflies are now only a faint shadow of their former abundance,” said Stephanie Kurose, a senior policy specialist at the Center for Biological Diversity. “But thanks to the leadership of Rep. Panetta and Sen. Merkley, along with Reps. Carbajal and Davis, the MONARCH Act offers hope that we can pull these amazing creatures back from the brink. This legislation is exactly the kind of bold action needed to help stem the larger extinction crisis and save our planet from ruin.”
Scott Black, Executive Director of the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation said, “The monarch migration in the western US is on the verge of collapse and monarchs in the east have severely declined. The Monarch Act and the Monarch and Pollinator Highway Act would provide a substantial boost in habitat restoration that could be the lifeline monarchs and other pollinators need to survive.”
“Monarch butterflies are an important part of ecosystems. Recovering their populations by conserving habitat before they go extinct is critical. Conserving habitat through the MONARCH Act of 2021 would bring us one step closer to protecting important ecosystems for western monarchs, and ensuring the valuable ecosystem services the habitat and the species provide,” said A. Marm Kilpatrick, Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, UC Santa Cruz.
Mayors from the cities of Pacific Grove and Santa Cruz, two regions with monarch groves that have seen severe population decline in recent years applaud the MONARCH Act. “You could say that Monarch Butterflies are part of the community’s DNA,” said Pacific Grove Mayor Bill Peake. “Hundreds of thousands of western monarchs used to make their way through the City of Santa Cruz and our beloved Natural Bridges State Park. This year’s official estimates were around 550.” said Santa Cruz Mayor Donna Meyers.