The Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) is seeking public comment on a draft regional plan to enhance and target monarch butterfly conservation west of the Rocky Mountains. In September 2018, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation awarded a grant to WAFWA to develop a regional strategy to improve coordination and conservation among monarch butterfly and other pollinator partners.
The monarch butterfly is an iconic species in North America and its annual migration cycle is one of the most remarkable natural phenomena in the world. However, over the past 20 years, the monarch butterfly population has declined by more than 80 percent throughout much of its range. Several other pollinators have experienced similarly dramatic declines in recent decades. Habitat loss is a primary threat to many of these species.
Since January 2018, WAFWA members states of Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, Utah, Arizona, and Nevada have been leading an effort to develop a conservation strategy to conserve and enhance monarch populations west of the Rockies. University and non-governmental partners interested in monarch and pollinator conservation are also involved in the effort.
“This draft conservation plan is a great opportunity for WAFWA and the member states within the range of the western population of monarchs to work collaboratively,” said Bill Van Pelt, WAFWA Grassland Coordinator. “Developing a regional conservation plan will not only benefit monarchs and other pollinators, but all wildlife species that depend on healthy diverse grassland habitats. Over the years we have learned by working with industry and landowners we can identify solutions to keep working lands in production while conserving wildlife at the same time.”
Conservation elements include a system to track implementation efforts identified in the Western Monarch Butterfly Conservation Plan and transition milkweed data into WAFWA’s Crucial Habitat Assessment Tool. With this information accessible on-line, land managers will be able to identify and prioritize areas for monarch and other pollinator conservation efforts.
Currently, WAFWA and their partners are inviting the public to participate in the development of the Western Monarch Butterfly Conservation Plan. The public is encouraged to provide input by sending comments to MonarchComments@wildlife.ca.gov by December 6, 2018.