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Mayors’ Monarch Pledge Expands South of the Border
As you head south on Interstate 35 in Texas, you pass through Austin which was named the most wildlife-friendly city in the United States by the National Wildlife Federation in 2015. Austin’s Mayor, Steve Adler, took the National Wildlife Federation’s Mayors’ Monarch Pledge in September 2015, building on the city’s existing work to help pollinators and wildlife.
Continuing along I-35 through San Antonio (the first Monarch Champion City) and Laredo (another Mayors’ Monarch Pledge city) and you arrive at the U.S.-Mexico border, a distinction that means a lot geopolitically but means absolutely nothing to a monarch butterfly!
Many Americans learn about the monarch butterfly’s fall migration from the northern U.S. and Canada through Texas and to the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve in Michoacán, Mexico. This narrative often overlooks the 700 miles of critical habitat in northern and central Mexico between Laredo and the Rio Grande Valley to the Reserve in Michoacán. This region has been stewarded by an amazing network known as Correo Real, and in April 2017 Mayor Isidro Lopez Villareal of Saltillo, Mexico, (a city of about 750,000 people in the middle of this critical 700 mile area of northern Mexico) became the first mayor in Mexico to take the Mayors’ Monarch pledge!
While the pledge was originally designed for municipalities in the United States, the expansion southward to Mexico (and northward to Canada) was made possible through the Commission for Environmental Cooperation. Trinational collaboration is critical for a species like the monarch butterfly, whose eastern population (east of the continental divide) has declined by more than 80 percent over historical averages and whose multigenerational migration spans the three countries.
Today, the mayors of Saltillo and Austin, which are also sister cities, are taking major steps for the monarch.
Mayor Isidro Lopez Villareal of Saltillo, Mexico, became the first mayor in Mexico to take the Mayors’ Monarch Pledge, pledging at the Leadership Circle Level (committing to at least eight actions). Already Saltillo is taking action on its pledge, including:
- Signing an official proclamation of the City of Saltillo’s commitment to help save the monarch butterfly and launching a public communications effort.
- Hosting three training workshop for park department and natural resources staff in the city working with Profauna A.C., a local NGO. City staff are learning how to protect the monarch butterfly during its migration, including proper tree maintenance to ensure large groups of monarchs have sufficient resting sites on their journey south.
- Planting a monarch and pollinator garden with teachers and youth at the school of social work at the Universidad Autónoma de Coahuila in Saltillo.
Since taking the pledge in September 2015, Mayor Steve Adler and his team in Austin have expanded or taken on some new initiatives, including:
- Creating standard operating procedures for “Wildflower Meadows” on city owned property. These procedure allow for flexibility and seasonal variations to help ensure monarch butterflies have access to the nectar plants (food) to refuel as they migrate.
- Running an Adopt-A-Meadow process for citizens to be engaged in the process of restoring meadows and getting the public to understand the new management practices.
- Updating the city’s Integrated Pest Management for Parks and Recreation operating procedures to include the following language: “***SPECIAL ATTENTION*** There are certain chemical families, such as neonicotinoids, that are found to harm or kill non‐targeted bees. The Austin Parks and Recreation Department (PARD) will not approve the use of products containing constituents of these chemical families. The neonicotinoid products that were previously on the approved list have been removed. These products (Merit, Marathon and Marathon II) will no longer be available for PARD use.”
Both Saltillo and Austin are making a difference for wildlife.
Has your mayor taken the Mayors’ Monarch Pledge?