Mayor Rawlings has taken the Mayors’ Monarch Pledge at the Leadership Circle level with the National Wildlife Federation (NWF). The City of Dallas is located along one of the major butterfly “highways” that Monarchs use for their annual migration between the US and Mexico. Every year, these tiny creatures fly thousands of miles and pass through Texas as they head toward their winter home in Mexico, and return each spring as they journey northward. Dallas serves as part of the Monarch’s spring breeding grounds, and as a location where they can find food and shelter during their fall migration.
The Mayors’ Monarch Pledge comes at a critical moment for the Monarch, whose population has decreased by around 90% over the last decade. This is attributed to habitat loss from many sources: illegal logging of their overwintering trees in Mexico, the development of natural wildflower area and milkweed habitat, the use of herbicides and pesticides, and drought.
Milkweed is vital to the Monarch. It is the only plant on which they will lay their eggs, and when the caterpillars hatch, this is virtually their only source of food. Milkweed contains a toxin that Monarch caterpillars incorporate into their wings and exoskeletons, rendering them poisonous to predators as adult butterflies. This is why native milkweed planting and conservation is critical to ensuring the survival of this icon.
The City of Dallas and NWF are working to conserve and increase native habitat where migrating Monarchs can find milkweed and other wildflowers they need for food. The City has committed to at least 10 different initiatives that will raise awareness on the threats facing this graceful sky-dancer during its annual migration. It is hoped these measures, outlined below, will be successful in protecting the Monarch from further harm and create a safe “butterfly way” through North Texas:
- launch a public effort to plant Monarch gardens across the city
- communicate with garden groups to urge them to plant milkweeds
- hold meetings with gardening leaders to discuss partnerships
- support milkweed seed collection and planting effort
- plant a Monarch-friendly garden at City Hall
- create a Monarch neighborhood challenge
- add milkweed and nectar-producing plants in community gardens
- allow for native prairie and plants
- direct City staff to consider native milkweed and nectar plants at City properties
- include Monarch conservation in long-range plans, including the City’s Sustainability Plan
Ms. Grace Barnett of the Natural Wildlife Federation is leading the community initiatives for Monarch preservation, while the Office of Environmental Quality is leading City initiatives with partners in other departments and community organizations.
We had our first meeting with Ms. Grace Barnett of the NWF, along with community stakeholders on February 23. Over 80 concerned citizens and organizations formed the Dallas Monarch Network and agreed on the following goals to develop a Monarch Conservation Plan:
- Advancing educational programs at DISD schools and private/charter schools
- Encouraging policy changes at nurseries and other plant sellers
- Offering incentives to plant pollinator habitat
- Involving HOAs in residential challenges to increase the number of habitats
- Implementing a comprehensive outreach campaign
The Regional Monarch meeting was held in April at Earth Day Texas, where cities and organizations from across the region identified potential barriers and solutions to Monarch conservation, as well as implementation strategies and best practices.
The second Dallas Monarch Network meeting was held on May 12, and stakeholders have decided to form committees to write different sections of the Monarch Conservation Plan to address the goals outlined above.
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Learn to identify milkweed and tag locations of milkweed as part of the Texas Milkweeds and Monarchs project.
Plant native wildflowers and nectar plants, milkweed, and change your mowing habits to support Monarchs. Click here to learn more about native plants and pollinators and the things you can do to help them.