The National Wildlife Federation today announced 49 mayors in 16 states have taken the Mayors’ Monarch Pledge, launching a national campaign asking mayors to commit their cities to a series of specific actions to make their urban habitat friendlier to the declining monarch butterfly and other wildlife. Among the first wave of pledge signers are Ivy Taylor, mayor of San Antonio (America’s 7th-largest city), Mike Rawlings, mayor of Dallas (9th), Steve Adler of Austin (11th), Betsy Price of Fort Worth (16th), Mick Cornett of Oklahoma City (27th) and Francis Slay of St. Louis (60th).
“By taking the Mayors’ Monarch Pledge, these leaders are setting an example of how every American can help save this iconic specie, while also ensuring future generations can enjoy their spectacular metamorphosis and migration” said Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. “If we all work together — individuals, communities, farmers, land managers, mayors and local, state, and federal agencies — we can reverse the monarch decline and ensure every American child has a chance to experience amazing monarchs in their communities.”
Once abundant, the monarch numbers have recently plummeted as milkweed, the plant caterpillars rely on for food and habitat, has become scarcer. Other factors like industrial agricultural practices, pesticide use in farms and backyards, and unexpected changes in climate have contributed to the decline of the iconic species. In 1996, the monarch population wintering in Mexico was more than 1 billion, in 2014, numbers fell to a disheartening 56 million. Monarch populations have declined by more than 90 percent in the last 20 years.
The Mayors’ Monarch Pledge encourages mayors and other local government chief executives to take action to help the threatened butterfly in their community. With the pledge, cities and municipalities are committing to create monarch butterfly habitat and educate citizens by:
Planting a monarch-friendly demonstration garden at city hall to provide habitat for countless butterflies and serve as a learning tool for citizens that want to create their own gardens at home.
Converting abandoned and vacant lots to monarch habitat.
Changing mowing practices and establishing “no mow zones” along roadside and in parks to allow milkweed to grow and support monarch caterpillars.
Hosting an annual monarch butterfly festival.
“I’m pleased to have taken the National Wildlife Federation’s Mayors Monarch Pledge because of the benefits urban monarch conservation affords both people and pollinators,” said Mayor Francis Slay of St. Louis. “I urge my fellow mayors in Missouri and across the country to also take the pledge and join me in making a difference for the monarch butterfly and the many people who enjoy connecting with nature where they live, work, learn, play or worship.”
Top cities involved in the pledge include:
San Luis Obispo, Calif.
Slaughter Beach, Del.
Coconut Creek, Fla.
Cooper City, Fla.
Ann Arbor, Mich.
Farmington Hills, Mich.
Keego Harbor, Mich.
North Mankato, Minn.
Creve Coeur, Mo.
Kansas City, Mo.
St. Louis, Mo.
Olmsted Falls, OH
Oklahoma City, Okla.
Brushy Creek, TX
Dripping Springs, TX
Fort Worth, TX
Grand Prairie, TX
Highland Village, TX
Leon Valley, TX
Saint Hedwig, TX
San Antonio, TX
The Mayors Monarch Pledge comes after the joint partnership between the National Wildlife Federation and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. In February, both parties signed a memorandum of understanding to increase monarch numbers. The memorandum provided a framework for cooperation in restoring and conserving populations of the monarch butterfly, pollinator species, and the native plants and habitat which they rely on.
“We’re all concerned by the vast decline in monarch numbers. The Mayors’ Monarch Pledge allows communities and their elected officials to take real action to help this iconic butterfly grow in numbers,” said Patrick Fitzgerald, senior director of community wildlife at the National Wildlife Federation. “Cities can more effectively and more quickly take action and make a difference for the monarch butterfly, as well as other pollinators too.”
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