MONTEREY COUNTY — With butterfly populations on the decline, more than 250 Rotarians representing 22 Monterey County Rotary Clubs recently gathered at the Laguna Seca Recreation Area near Salinas to plant 2.5 acres of monarch butterfly habitat gardens.
“Our mission is to increase monarch butterfly habitat throughout Monterey County with the long-range goal of reaching other counties along the butterfly’s western migration,” according to Kim Lawson, president of the Salinas Steinbeck Rotary Club.
Western monarch butterflies are returning to the Pacific Grove overwintering site after the population count reached an all-time low last year. The drop in the number of butterflies has declined steeply since the 1980s due to habitat loss, pesticides and GMOs, according to the “Monarch Watch” website.
King City Rotary Club members and Interact Club students joined the Nov. 20 restoration effort, planting native vegetation for butterflies to reproduce. King City Rotarians also barbecued for all of the volunteers, including Congressman Jimmy Panetta.
“Monarch populations are rebounding on the Central Coast, but we need to keep supporting efforts like these to reach historic population levels,” Panetta said on social media afterward.
According to King City Rotary Club President Alex Gourley, the next butterfly habitat restoration project is being planned for South Monterey County.