Missoula’s Monarch Pledge

Missoula Mayor John Engen signs National Wildlife Federation’s “Mayors’ Monarch Pledge”

The migration of monarch butterflies is one of the natural world’s most epic journeys. That’s why the National Wildlife Federation cheered Mayor John Engen, who was the first Mayor in Montana to sign the Mayors’ Monarch Pledge. Now he’s done it again! Mayor Engen has officially re-signed the pledge for 2022. This new pledge includes a commitment to five action items meant to improve the declining numbers of monarch butterflies and other pollinators.

Making monarch habitats

One of the first action items was announced recently at the Missoula City Council meeting when Mayor Engen declared a proclamation stating the week of May 16th through May 20th as Missoula Pollinator Week. The local Missoula regional office of the National Wildlife Federation celebrated the week by encouraging community members to work on planting native plants around their yards and hosting a children’s activity consisting of making butterflies at the Clark Fork River Market out of recycled paper.

Mayor Engen has also committed to other actions including but not limited to changing weed and mowing ordinances to allow for native prairies and plant habitats to thrive, planting milkweed and pollinator-friendly native nectar plants in medians and public rights-of-way, and engaging with developers, planners, landscape architects, and other community leaders and organizers involved in planning processes to identify opportunities to create monarch habitat.

On these projects, he will be working with Kassie Robakiewicz, the Big Sky Watershed Corps AmeriCorps member serving with the National Wildlife Federation. Kassie manages their Garden for Wildlife™ Program which aims to educate the community on ways to sustainably provide wildlife with food, water, cover, and places to raise young.

The Mayor will also work with Donna Gaukler, the Director of Missoula Parks and Recreation to ensure these action items are effective and beneficial for the City.  According to Donna, “Partnering with communities across the nation aligns with Missoula climate, conservation, and parks goals.  We are delighted to participate in providing more and better habitat for our critical pollinators.”

Light-weight on a long journey

Each monarchEach monarch weighs as little as a paper clip, and western monarchs fly from their western breeding areas, including Missoula, to their overwintering grounds in forests along California’s coast. As stated by the National Wildlife Federation “the monarch butterfly is an iconic species whose eastern populations have declined by 90% and western populations by 99% in recent years.”

“Through the National Wildlife Federation’s Mayors’ Monarch Pledge, U.S. cities, municipalities, and other communities are committing to create a habitat for the monarch butterfly and pollinators, and to educate residents about how they can make a difference at home and in their community.”

children creating pollinator habitat at Missoula Public Library
Credit: Missoula Public Library

The importance of having pollinator habitats is not news to Missoula residents but with the encouragement and advocation of this pledge signed by Mayor Engen, there is an excitement in having a plan of action to make a difference in their community by reconnecting people with nature. The addition of accountability and tracking through action items was introduced this year and will become an annual process to make sure communities are doing what they can to help the monarchs.

For more information about the Mayors’ Monarch Pledge, visit NWF.org/MayorsMonarchPledge.

To get involved with any of the Missoula action items or if you have any questions, please email Kassie Robakiewicz at MtEducation@nwf.org or visit our website: https://www.nwf.org/Northern-Rockies-and-Pacific-Region/Education/Montana.