Elmhurst Park District joined other community organizations on Thursday, September 15 to sign a Pollinator Pledge and commit to raising awareness of the declining monarch butterfly population.
The event was hosted by the Rotary Club of Elmhurst in conjunction with the club hosting the first stop of a monarch-themed boxcar’s North American tour to help save the monarch butterfly. The decision to launch the tour was made in August through partnerships between Kansas City Southern Ry. (KCS), Canadian Pacific Ry. (CP), GATX, the Monterrey, Mexico Metropolitan Rotary Club and NASCO, working with local Rotary Clubs.
The goal is to raise $100,000 to fund 60,000 oyamel trees at El Rosario Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary in Michoacán, Mexico to help reestablish the monarch population. The boxcar will follow the annual fall butterfly migration from Canada to Mexico.
Monarchs find their way south to Michoacán, Mexico for the winter and to the United States and Canada for the summer. Concern regarding this migration pattern has increased, as the loss of habitat areas for the monarchs has affected their breeding areas and destinations. These habitats include the oyamel forests in Mexico, which are recognized as important to monarch butterflies. Deforestation and climate change over decades have fragmented the habitat.
Over the years, the Park District has partnered on several projects to help save the monarch, including helping create and maintain Monarch Waystations in the parks. These waystations provide resources like milkweed and nectar producing plants where monarch butterflies can breed and rest during their annual migration. Certified waystations are located at Berens, Eldridge, Wilder Park and the Great Western Prairie while milk weed can be found in beds throughout the District.
The event brought together rotarians as well as representatives from the Mexican Consulate (Chicago), GATX, KCS, and leaders of local community groups to learn more about planting pollinator gardens along the migration path and to raise funds for the purchase of oyamel trees.