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Winter is monarch butterfly season on the Central Coast 

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By providing information, education, outreach and resources, the Western Monarch Trail serves as an opportunity to learn what can be done to take action to help restore populations of healthy migrating western monarch butterflies.

New ‘Western Monarch Trail’ follows the migration route of the western monarch butterfly

– November officially marked the beginning of monarch season where the beautiful western monarch butterflies arrive in local overwintering sites. The Pismo State Beach Monarch Butterfly Grove received some early visitors this year; large amounts of monarchs showed up mid-October, with numbers 3,500-percent percent higher than the same time last year. This is great news for the species, which is believed to be on the brink of extinction.

Since early this year, the Central Coast State Parks Association (CCSPA) has been working hard on a brand new project to support the conservation of the western monarch, and it has finally come to fruition. The Western Monarch Trail was born out of a brainstorm while planning the annual Butterfly Ball. CCSPA was looking for ways to make a meaningful impact on the overall western monarch population that would go beyond just the local groves and overwintering sites. The group took inspiration from the Whale Trail, a non-profit organization that highlights whale migration and educational resources across the whole west coast.

The Western Monarch Trail is a multi-agency collaboration with representatives from federal and state agencies, non-profit organizations and private entities taking a grass roots approach to educating, advocating and making change in support of the western monarch. The Western Monarch Trail follows the migration route of the western monarch butterfly; sites along this route provide shelter for butterflies during the winter, nectar to feed migrating monarchs, and native milkweed which provides food for their larvae. Signage along the trail identifies crucial overwintering and nectaring locations for western monarchs, providing the public with consistent, up-to-date information on their status, as well as efforts to restore their populations. By providing information, education, outreach and resources, the Western Monarch Trail serves as an opportunity to learn what can be done to take action to help restore populations of healthy migrating western monarch butterflies.

CCSPA has been in collaboration with California State Parks, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Xerces Society, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, California Native Plant Society, the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, and many more agencies and organizations across the Western United States. Experts in the field and representatives of participating organizations have all collaborated on the creation of a beautiful and informative panel which will provide site-specific information for locations along the trail. The first panel will be installed within the next few months at the Pismo State Beach Monarch Butterfly Grove. Future funds will go towards the creation and implementation of additional panels, educational and outreach efforts in nurseries, gardens, and critical monarch locations, and restoration efforts at overwintering sites.

The Butterfly Ball was held at the Octagon Barn in San Luis Obispo on October 23rd. The event raised over $13,000 to kickstart the Western Monarch Trail, but this venture needs your help in order to expand our efforts beyond our local sites. Check out westernmonarchtrail.com to learn more about the project as well as ways you can support monarchs and donate to the cause. And stay tuned for the first Western Monarch Trail interpretive panel that will be installed at Pismo State Beach Monarch Butterfly Grove in early 2022!

About CCSPA

The Central Coast State Parks Association (CCSPA), in partnership with California State Parks in San Luis Obispo County, supports interpretation, education and volunteer efforts while promoting public awareness and stewardship of our natural resources and cultural heritage. CCSPA is an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit. It is one of 85 similar cooperating associations across the state who work in partnership with the state parks.

For more information about the organization, visit centralcoastparks.org.

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The news staff of the Paso Robles Daily News wrote or edited this story from local contributors and press releases. The news staff can be reached at info@pasoroblesdailynews.com.