By Helen Wolter, Legislative Advocate
An intrepid group of citizen scientists gathered over the weekend to collect data at our Monarch Butterfly Training event in Half Moon Bay. The event started with a presentation from Mia Monroe of the Xerces Society. Mia discussed the alarming decline of the Western Monarch butterfly and explained the importance of the data collection in helping with its potential preservation to avoid extinction.
The site where the butterflies have been spotted is directly adjacent to the Dunes Beach parcel of land where Committee for Green Foothills is opposing a proposed hotel and RV park that could potentially do more damage to the Monarch’s precarious situation. Conservation of the monarchs is an important effort in the protection of land on the coast. .
Following Mia’s presentation, participants moved to the California State Park Sweetwood Campground eucalyptus grove in search of butterflies. Eucalyptus is a known overwintering habitat and butterflies had been spotted in this grove, although the recorded sightings were few. Despite this, the group searched the sky in hopes of catching an orange flash. Suddenly there came the cry of, “There’s one!” Quickly, participants recorded the sighting as Mia thoughtfully gave us instructions on how to collect this important data.
The next sighting of butterflies gracefully flapping their wings was as amazing as the first as these resilient creatures showed their splendor in the sunshine of a normal Sunday morning. The group was delighted and inspired to provide true data of the presence of these butterflies in this grove.
At the end of the outing, participants created a plan to follow the butterflies in the coming months so that these species might be offered as much protection as possible. These newly minted butterfly counters will collect data to protect these fragile creatures while validating another reason to protect the adjacent Dunes Beach parcel. One could not ask for a better day.