SACRAMENTO— The Legislature has approved a measure by Assemblymember Mark Stone (D-Monterey Bay) to protect and restore the habitat of California’s iconic monarch butterfly. AB 2421, which received bipartisan support, provides funds and guidance for farmers, ranchers, nonprofits and public agencies to restore monarch habitats across the state.
“As monarch butterfly populations decline, ecosystems across our state are at risk of collapse. That’s why it’s our duty to protect the lands where monarchs and other pollinators live, breed, and migrate.” said Stone. “I urge Governor Brown to sign this measure into law.”
Experts estimate the populations overwintering on the California coast have declined from about ten million in the 1980s to just 200,000 today – a decline of over 90 percent in just three decades. Scientists argue that there is a 72 percent chance that the butterflies will go extinct within the next 20 years.
AB 2421 provides grants and support to preserve and restore the habitats of monarchs and other pollinators by establishing the Monarch & Pollinator Rescue Program (MPRP) at the Wildlife Conservation Board. MPRP would provide grants and technical assistance to applicants to restore California prairie in an effort to recover and sustain populations of monarchs and other pollinators. Additionally, it would coordinate efforts to restore breeding and overwintering habitat throughout the monarch’s range, particularly on farms and ranches in the Central Coast, Central Valley, and Sierra Nevada foothills. The 2018-19 state budget includes $3 million for MPRP to fund monarch and pollinator habitat preservation and restoration in overwintering grounds and valley breeding habitats.
“Saving the monarch butterfly from extinction requires urgent action from multiple sectors across North America, and AB 2421 shows how California can be a part of the solution,” said Eric Holst, associate vice president of working lands at Environmental Defense Fund, a sponsor of the measure. “We need more leaders like Assemblymember Stone who are willing to put forth creative ideas for supporting imperiled wildlife, even those species that are not as iconic and beloved as the monarch.”
In the summer, monarchs breed in California prairie habitat, which once extended across the Central Valley but has shrunk as a result of pesticide use, expanded development, and climate change. Monarchs overwinter in Central Coast forests, which are threatened by development, land management decisions, and climate change.
Monarch butterflies use resources common to many pollinators, so their numbers reflect general pollinator population success. Humans rely on healthy pollinator populations for stable, secure food sources and ecosystems.
The Governor has until September 30 to sign the measure.