How we Championed Western Monarch Butterflies in 2022 | Cal Parks

How we Championed Western Monarch Butterflies in 2022

Published: November 18, 2022

Over the past year, we worked to protect the western monarch butterflies that call our state parks home in the winter. Populations of western monarchs overwintering along the California coast have faced a significant decline in the past two decades, hitting a new low of only 1,899 individuals in 2020. The past year has shown an encouraging trend of population rebound, but monarchs are still threatened — in July 2022 the species was listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List. 

In 2022, we worked to protect monarch butterflies by: 

  • Funding projects that protect key habitats 

  • Organizing volunteer workdays to plant native plants that monarchs rely on 

  • Supporting legislation that would benefit the species even further 

  • Educating the public on issues facing monarchs 

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Volunteers at Natural Bridges State Beach

Grants Funded: 

Monarch Butterfly Conservation Habitat Enhancement Project 

Groundswell Coastal Ecology – $30,226  

Our funding allowed Groundswell Coastal Ecology to meet their goals and objectives at both Lighthouse Field State Beach and Natural Bridges State Beach. We held four community planting days in partnership with Groundswell to plant and maintain native nectar plants and windbreak trees. Groundswell is also planning for future climates by ensuring water availability and retention for trees and making plans to reduce wildfire fuels. Learn more about this project and how Groundswell is putting these funds to work by watching this video

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Monarch signs

California Monarch Recovery Project 

The Xerces Society – $22,416  

This ongoing project provides funds for the Xerces Society to create overwintering management plans for several key habitats in the San Luis Obispo Coast district including San Simeon State Park. They made significant progress by writing and revising drafts and holding two virtual meetings with California State Parks staff to discuss nine completed habitat assessments of monarch overwintering sites. Xerces also began discussing the creation of “Western Monarch Trail” interpretive signage that may be installed at one or more overwintering sites in the district to educate visitors about the journey monarchs take each year and the threats along the way. 

Pismo State Beach Monarch Butterfly Grove Education and Outreach 

Central Coast State Parks Association on behalf of Pismo Beach State Park – $10,000 

This grant term is still underway, and the grantee has made significant progress already! Pismo Beach State Park is a key overwintering site for monarchs, and they have ordered and installed interpretive signage, purchased a fixed viewing binocular set for folks to observe butterflies, and completed a Spanish translation for their monarch butterfly augmented reality coloring page. These educational tools will help prepare the next generation of monarch butterfly stewards in state parks. 

Volunteer Work: 

We hosted four workdays in partnership with Groundswell Coastal Ecology at Lighthouse Field State Beach and Natural Bridges State Beach in Santa Cruz. Over 130 volunteers showed their support to overwintering monarch butterflies by removing 600 square feet of invasive species and planting 3,519 native plants. This critical work increases the biodiversity and ecological resilience of the parks and provides food and habitat for western monarchs. 

Advocacy: 

We advocated for the passage of Assembly Bill 2146, authored by Assemblymember Bauer-Kahan of Orinda. The bill was aimed to protect pollinators, like western monarch butterflies, by banning five key neonicotinoid pesticides from use in most non-agricultural settings. Unfortunately, the bill did not pass, but Governor Newsom urged the Department of Pesticide Regulation to address concerns raised in the legislation and create regulations to address these uses of neonicotinoid pesticides.  

At California State Parks Foundation, we will continue to advocate for monarchs through future legislation. 

Education: 

Please check out our resources to learn more about the work we do for monarchs! Spread the word through our blog posts and video: