A Flutter of Monarchs at Dunes Beach

The phone call came from a resident of Half Moon Bay with one magical word: monarchs. Monarch butterflies in flight at the Sweetwood Group Camp, adjacent to the Dunes Beach parcel where we have marshalled community support against a proposed hotel and luxury RV park.

Monarch butterflies have been in the news recently as their numbers were alarmingly low in 2018. The annual Western Monarch Thanksgiving Count revealed a reduction of California’s overwintering butterflies to less than 0.5% of the historical population, and a decline of 86% compared to 2017. These historically low numbers follow a long period in which monarchs have declined 97% since the 1980s.

This year will be a real test of how resilient the western monarch population is following such a precipitous decline. The population drop should be an urgent call to action for state, federal, and local governments, industry, agricultural producers, conservation groups, and the public to step up conservation efforts. Addressing and reversing widespread habitat loss and pesticide use throughout the monarch’s range are necessary steps to reverse this downward trend.

The discovery of monarchs next to the Dunes Beach site is nonetheless exciting, and highlights the need for Half Moon Bay to protect this important habitat along with equestrian and agricultural uses at Dunes Beach.

You Can Help Monarchs

• Please join us for an informational presentation on monitoring butterflies at Dunes Beach and how you can assist with their conservation the morning of June 22. RSVP here (This event has passed. Thank you to all who attended!).

• Plant native milkweed species if you live in an area where they naturally occur.

• If you live in California, planting early emerging species such as heartleaf milkweed (Asclepias cordifolia) or woollypod milkweed (Asclepias eriocarpa) may be especially important.

• Plant nectar resources that bloom throughout the season, especially those that bloom during spring and fall migration.

• Reduce or eliminate pesticide use, particularly insecticide use. Support agricultural producers who minimize pesticide use and provide wildlife habitat

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