100 Mayors Take Action to Save the Monarch Butterfly

This month, monarch butterflies are beginning their migration north from the oyamel fir forests in the Sierra Madre Mountains of Michoacán, Mexico. As they head north they will find new friends and new habitat in cities across the U.S. where 100 mayors have now taken the National Wildlife Federation’s Mayors’ Monarch Pledge.

It’s been a tumultuous year for this generation of monarchs due to the extreme weather events that they experienced during their migration. During their southbound migration from the U.S. and Canada to Mexico last fall, the monarchs faced category five Hurricane Patricia – the strongest ever recorded by the National Hurricane Center. Earlier this month, during the start of the northbound migration the monarchs were battered by an unusual and extreme winter storm that killed at least 3% of the estimated population, though more recent reports have suggested that as many as 50% perished.

Antelope-horns milkweed. Photo by Seth Anderson, Flickr Creative Commons

As the eastern population of monarchs make their journey north from Mexico and as the western monarchs head inland from the southern coast of California, they will find new habitat planted across the United States. There has been an unprecedented effort to plant milkweed and nectar producing plants across the monarch’s range over the last year by many organizations including those represented by the Monarch Joint Venture partnership.

Among those creating new habitat are the mayors that have taken the National Wildlife Federation’s Mayors’ Monarch Pledge. Mayors across the nation are taking action, from San Luis Obispo, CA to North Miami, FL to major cities up and down the Central Monarch Flyway including Austin, TX, Fayetteville, AR, Oklahoma City, OK, Kansas City, MO, Des Moines, IA, St Paul, MN and Minneapolis, MN.

San Antonio Monarch Festival
NWF’s Karen Bishop at the San Antonio Monarch Festival. Photo by Grace Barnett

All told, these 100 mayors have committed to create habitat for the monarch butterfly and educate their citizens about how they can help. They have committed to more than 400 action items from a list of 25 possible actions that a mayor can take to improve habitat in cities for monarchs and other pollinators.  These actions include creating a monarch-friendly demonstration garden at city hall, converting abandoned lots to monarch habitat and changing mowing schedules to allow milkweed to grow unimpeded.

You can find a full list of signatories here. Let’s look back at what some mayors have done since the pledge began!

9/17/15 – Mayor Francis Slay of St. Louis, MO, became the first mayor to take the Mayors’ Monarch Pledge and he has continued to expand ongoing monarch butterfly conservation initiatives in the city.

Photo 5 - Mayors Monarch Pledge Launch - STL - Mayor Slay - Patrick Fitzgerald
Mayors Monarch Pledge Launch in St,. Louis. Collin O’Mara, NWF CEO and President and Mayor Francis Slay. Photo by Patrick Fitzgerald

11/15/15 – Mayor Lioneld Jordan of Fayetteville, AR, committed to 19 action items, created a monarch conservation network and passed the a “Save the Monarch Butterfly Day” resolution to promote the work.

San Antonio Strategy Meeting
San Antonio Strategy Meeting. Photo by Ruben Lizalde

12/9/15 – San Antonio Mayor Ivy Taylor commits to all 24 actions of the Mayors’ Monarch Pledge, becoming the first (and only thus far) mayor to achieve “Monarch Champion” status. The city recently held its first ever Monarch Festival led by the San Antonio Zoo.

Early 2016 – Mayor Steve Adler of Austin, TX was the second mayor to take the pledge last fall, and the city is still continuing many monarch conservation efforts. In early 2016, the city of Austin convened regional mowing directors to identify specific plots in parks across the city where they can establish wildflower habitats that can be adopted by community groups.

3/29/16 – The Twin Cities helped the Mayors’ Monarch Pledge reach a new milestone when Mayor Chris Coleman of St. Paul, MN, and Mayor Betsy Hodges of Minneapolis, MN, took the pledge, both cities have taken significant action to help monarchs and pollinators.

Join NowHas your city taken the Mayors’ Monarch Pledge?  If not, please reach out to your city’s mayor and tell them about the pledge!

Monarch Conservation in America's Cities - GuideThe National Wildlife Federation’s NEW guide “Monarch Conservation in America’s Cities”
can be a great resource for your city to see what other cities are doing across the nation.

You can also join the Mayors’ Monarch Pledge Facebook Group to see all the great work that cities are doing across the nation for the monarch.