Partners and other stakeholders convened October 2nd and 3rd at the Monarch Joint Venture annual meeting held at the USFWS National Conservation Training Center, and what a great meeting it was! An enthusiastic group gathered to explore potential partnerships through the MJV and discuss next steps for monarch conservation. For many, it was an opportunity to network with other monarch conservation experts and strengthen existing programs by forming new collaborations. It was also a celebration of all the MJV has accomplished since our partnership was initiated in December 2008, and an opportunity to look forward to future opportunities.
A key goal for this meeting was to contribute to the development of the U.S. monarch conservation strategy. In February 2014, Presidents Obama and Peña Nieto, and Prime Minister Harper met at the North American Leaders Summit (NALS) and agreed “to establish a working group to ensure conservation of the monarch butterfly”. Next, participants in the May 2014 meeting of the Trilateral Committee in Queretaro, Mexico established that each country would designate a High Level Working Group (HLWG) to review and update the North American Monarch Conservation Plan (NAMCP, Commission for Environmental Cooperation, 2008). The Tri-national Action Plan/NAMCP update is to be delivered at the next NALS, in late February or March of 2015. In addition, President Obama’s June 20 Memorandum directing all executive departments and agencies to participate in developing a Federal Pollinator Strategy lays out a charge to conserve pollinators, including monarchs.
Dan Ashe, Director of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, was tasked with convening and leading the U.S. Monarch HLWG, coordinating the monarch strategy with the President’s Federal Pollinator Strategy, and coordinating with Mexico and Canada on their strategic monarch conservation planning. He addressed the MJV meeting on Oct 2nd regarding his vision for conserving monarchs, reminding us to set our sights high and “aim for what is improbable, but not impossible”. Beginning with his own agency, Dan directed all USFWS regions to do a cross programmatic review to identify ways in which they could incorporate monarch conservation, education, and monitoring into their existing efforts. Thanks, USFWS, for raising the bar!
The interagency HLWG for monarch conservation includes representatives from U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Forest Service, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Federal Highways Administration, Environmental Protection Agency, State Department, Office of Science and Technology Policy, and a representative for state fish and wildlife agencies. The MJV steering committee co-chairs will serve as ex officio members. The goal of this group is to develop a coordinated U.S. strategy for public and private lands by promoting habitat restoration and enhancement, outreach and education, and research and monitoring. This will be accomplished by updating the North American Monarch Conservation Plan, setting goals for monarch population and habitat targets, and then working to achieve these goals.
The North American Monarch Conservation Plan is a familiar document to the MJV. Many MJV partners were involved in the initial development of the Plan, and, as our guiding document, it is used to prioritize MJV and partner projects. To aid the U.S. HLWG in revising the NAMCP, participants at the MJV annual meeting assessed existing actions and provided recommendations for modifications. MJV’s recommendations will be provided to the U.S. HLWG for their consideration in developing the tri-national monarch conservation strategy.
The MJV is coordinating monarch conservation efforts in the U.S. by leveraging public and private partnerships and using monarch butterflies as a flagship species for pollinator conservation. We’re excited to play a role in the development and implementation of the tri-national monarch conservation strategy. To learn more about the MJV, look to our 2014 annual report, which includes our accomplishments and investments since 2009. A shorter summary of our accomplishments can be found here.