Monarch butterfly population has dropped by 90% since the 1990s

Klobuchar sent bipartisan letter with Senator Susan Collins urging Administration to pursue public-private partnerships to help save the monarch; joined U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today for event announcing new preservation efforts

Washington, DC—U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) is calling for action to preserve the monarch butterfly. The monarch butterfly population has dropped by 90% since the 1990s. Klobuchar sent a bipartisan letter with Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) urging the Administration to pursue public-private partnerships to help save the monarch. Today she joined the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for an event announcing the agency’s new preservation efforts.

In a letter to the Departments of Interior, Agriculture, and Transportation, Klobuchar and Collins highlighted the need to build on existing efforts to preserve the butterfly by launching new partnerships that will help stop its decline. Specifically, the senators proposed new public-private partnerships including planting milkweed in electric utility rights-of-way, which would not only benefit migrating monarch butterflies but could also reduce costs for utility companies for vegetation management.

Klobuchar also attended an event today with USFWS, where the agency announced a cooperative agreement with the National Wildlife Federation on projects to promote monarch butterfly habitat and a new initiative with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation that will leverage public-private partnerships to strengthen conservation projects.

“From school yards to back yards, everyone can play a part in helping preserve the monarch butterfly by planting milkweed in their communities,” Klobuchar said. “With the butterfly rapidly disappearing, I am pleased to see the Fish and Wildlife Service taking positive steps to reverse its decline. But we all must do more. It will take all hands on deck to protect the butterfly from extinction, and I will continue to call on public agencies, the private sector and American citizens to join together in the effort to protect the monarch butterfly.”

The full text of the senators’ recent letter is below:

Dear Secretaries Jewell, Vilsack, and Foxx:

The monarch is among the most recognizable butterfly species in North America.  This species has been beloved by teachers and students for its metamorphosis from caterpillar to butterfly, and also its remarkable roundtrip migration which spans 3,000 miles across Canada, the United States, and Mexico.

Estimates indicate the monarch butterfly has seen a 90 percent population decline since the 1990s. Similarly the Asclepias incarnate milkweed plant – the sole source of food for monarch caterpillars – has suffered a similar rate of decline. Efforts by non-governmental organizations to protect the monarch butterfly have focused on migratory research, land surveys, and educational campaigns to promote the planting of native milkweed at schools and in backyard habitats, but more needs to be done. Reversing this decline and preserving the monarch butterfly are critical, and the agencies you oversee are positioned to build on these existing efforts by identifying and strengthening public-private partnerships.

Opportunities for new public-private partnerships include planting milkweed in electric utility rights-of-way which would not only benefit migrating monarch butterflies but could also reduce costs for utility companies for vegetation management. Additionally, the Federal Highway Administration already provides guidance and best practices to state Departments of Transportation for vegetation management in highway rights-of-way. This guidance could be updated to allow interstate agreements to plant milkweed along key monarch migratory pathways, including on privately-owned property or rights-of-way on a voluntary basis.

Thank you for your assistance on this important matter. We look forward to working with you to develop innovative solutions with the private sector to preserve and protect the monarch butterfly. 

Sincerely,

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