Two bills were introduced this week by lawmakers to help prevent and save the monarch butterfly population.
The MONARCH Act, provides support for the conservation of western monarch butterflies (the monarch butterfly population that overwinters along the coast of California and breeds across California, Arizona, Nevada, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Utah). Specifically, the bill establishes the Western Monarch Butterfly Rescue Fund. The Department of Agriculture (USDA) must use amounts in the fund to provide grants for the conservation of such butterflies. In addition, the USDA must transfer amounts from the fund to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to implement the Western Monarch Butterfly Conservation Plan, which was prepared by the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies.
The Monarch and Pollinator Highway Act, would require the Secretary of Transportation to establish a program to provide grants to carry out activities to benefit pollinators on roadsides and highway rights-of-way, including the planting and seeding of native, locally-appropriate grasses and wildflowers, including milkweed, and for other purposes.
Rep. Jimmy Panetta (D-Calif.) and Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-ORe) introduced the bills in hopes to prevent the extinction of the species.
According to Common Dreams, the legislation comes at a critical moment for the iconic species. The Xerces Society said in January after its latest annual western monarch count that 1,914 monarch butterflies were recorded overwintering on the California coast—a figure the conservation group said reflected a staggering 99.9% drop from numbers in the 1980s and was an indiction the species was heading toward extinction.
With no protection on state or federal levels, these butterflies are in desperate need of an advocate.
“These bills will provide a lifeline for monarch butterflies whose populations have declined dramatically due to pesticide use, climate change, and habitat loss,” says Dr. Sylvia Fallon, senior director of wildlife at NRDC.