The next time you’re tooling down the highway somewhere in America, take a look around: Those miles of medians and roadsides along our highways offer unexpected environmental benefits.
All those broad, green strips along the nation’s highways turn out be vital habitats for many small critters, as well as pollinators including bees, butterflies and birds.
The western population of monarch butterflies is in steep decline, according to a recent study released by the Xerces Society, having fallen 74 percent in the past two decades, from roughly 1.2 million in 1997 to fewer than 300,000 butterflies in 2015.
Studies have documented the drop in eastern populations over the past several years, but this is the first time we’ve been able to understand the risks to the western population, which resides west of the Rocky Mountains.
On March 9th 2016, just days after we’d heard the good news that monarch numbers had rebounded to cover just over 4 hectares of forest in the mountains of central Mexico; a huge winter storm hit their wintering sites and the surrounding area.
The storm began with rain and was followed by hail, snow, and sub-freezing temperatures. The freezing temperatures killed many monarchs and the strong winds caused trees to topple over, losing monarch habitat.
As most of you know, the summer of 2015 produced a strong migration and a relatively large overwintering population (4.01 hectares). To place this population growth in context, let’s review the last several years.
The population declined following each of the three growing seasons from 2011-2013. There were aspects of each season that account for these declines. For example, the temperatures from March through August in 2012 were warmer – actually hotter – than for any year going back to 1895.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, President Barack Obama, and President Enrique Peña Nieto share a common commitment to a competitive, low-carbon and sustainable North American economy and society.
The Paris Agreement was a turning point for our planet, representing unprecedented accord on the urgent need to take action to combat climate change through innovation and deployment of low-carbon solutions.
Today, the Administration is releasing the Pollinator Partnership Action Plan (PPAP), building on Federal actions to improve pollinator health by facilitating additional state and private-sector engagement.
The PPAP furthers President Obama’s June, 2014, memorandum that focused the attention of Federal agencies on the plight of the pollinators—honey bee colony mortality rates that impact the viability of commercial beekeepers and agricultural pollination services; monarch butterfly declines that threaten its iconic continental-scale migration; and other pollinator species quietly slipping toward extinction.
The striking beauty of the monarch butterfly is unmistakable — but their uniqueness goes beyond the vivid orange and black wings that make them so recognizable.
These slight creatures weigh less than a dime, yet travel thousands of miles every year — 50 to 100 miles in just a day. An instinctive internal compass guides them on the same migration path as their ancestors — in spite of the fact that they have never taken the journey before. It’s nothing short of a miracle of nature.
But the butterflies that begin this majestic odyssey will never finish it.
More than 200 scientists, writers and artists have signed a letter addressed to Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, U.S. President Barack Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, in advance of the North American Leaders’ Summit in Ottawa later this month.
The signers urge that swift and energetic actions be taken to save the monarch butterfly from the threats that endanger its survival. All three countries must work together to mitigate the loss of the butterflies’ breeding habitat and to terminate all logging and mining in the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve in Michoacan, Mexico.