It’s appropriate that Ed St. George apologized for cutting down 36 eucalyptus trees used by monarch butterflies as a winter roosting habitat, but the question is how to make amends? Lost in the hullabaloo over this particular property is the fact that over the past 20 years, the North American monarch population has plunged from 1 billion to less than 60 million due mostly to habitat loss. (Climate change-fueled extreme weather may also be a factor.) It is our great luck that Santa Barbara is home to this majestic species, but it comes with a responsibility. Monarchs winter in clusters in very few places so preserving those places is important. The city should use the fine to pay for monarch habitat preservation and restoration, such as planting native milkweed for caterpillars and nectar plants for adults.
Katie Davis chairs the Los Padres Chapter of the Sierra Club.