The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Stephanie Kurose, (202) 849-8395,

Congress Urged to Boost Monarch Butterfly Conservation by $100 Million


More than 100 conservation organizations today urged the U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Committee to increase spending on monarch butterfly conservation by $100 million annually.

Monarchs are currently under review for Endangered Species Act protection. The Center for Biological Diversity, Natural Resources Defense Council and 104 other groups signed onto a letter seeking increased funding for restoring pollinator habitat. Restoration would include planting milkweed, the monarch caterpillar's sole host plant.

"These magnificent orange-and-black butterflies could disappear forever if lawmakers don't step up and increase conservation funding," said Stephanie Kurose, an endangered species policy specialist at the Center for Biological Diversity. "We need strong leadership from Congress if we're going to save monarchs for future generations."

Both the eastern and western populations face serious threats like pesticides, severe weather and climate change.

In the past 25 years, the eastern population of these once-common butterflies has declined by more than 80 percent despite gains in the most recent count due to good weather conditions last year. Scientists estimate a nearly 60 percent chance the monarch's annual multigenerational migration from states east of the Rocky Mountains to Mexico could collapse within the next 20 years.

The western population, which migrates from states west of the Rocky Mountains to overwinter on the coast of California, has declined by more than 99 percent over the past 30 years. It reached a historic low of less than 29,000 total butterflies in 2018, down from 4.5 million in the 1980s. Scientists estimate the western population faces a 70 percent risk of collapse within the next two decades.

The cost of restoring 1 million acres of milkweed per year would be $100 million, based on the government's own assessment of milkweed restoration costs. Scientists estimate that more than 165 million acres of milkweed habitat has been lost in recent decades. Pollinator habitat restoration is needed to ensure the butterfly has a large enough population size to be resilient to threats.

"These beautiful butterflies are running out of time," said Kurose. "Congress needs to take effective action to save the monarch before it's too late."

At the Center for Biological Diversity, we believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature — to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. We do so through science, law and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters and climate that species need to survive.

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