NARROWSBURG – Monarch butterflies are in trouble. In the last 20 years, their population has dwindled from more than a billion to just 150 million, a nearly 82% decline that has been observed with alarm along the Delaware River which serves as a flyway for the annual migration of Northeastern Monarchs from their summer breeding grounds to their wintering roosts in central Mexico.
A beautifully illustrated new brochure aims to educate and inspire people to be proactive stewards in revitalizing this charismatic species by recognizing their habitat threats.
“The Monarch Butterfly: Fostering the Flyway by the Byway” was initiated by discussions of the Upper Delaware Scenic Byway, Inc., the non-profit organization charged with enhancing and promoting the resources of New York State Route 97 which parallels the Upper Delaware River from Hancock to Port Jervis.
Upper Delaware Scenic Byway member, the Town of Highland, applied for an Upper Delaware Council, Inc. (UDC) Technical Assistance Grant which offers competitive funding for projects that advance the goals of the River Management Plan for the Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River.
One of that Plan’s objectives is to identify and protect rare, threatened, and endangered species within the nationally-designated Upper Delaware River corridor region.
The UDC awarded $4,500 to the Town of Highland on Oct. 1, 2015 and approved the brochure project’s successful completion on Aug. 23, 2016.
The town contracted with W Design of Barryville, NY, whose Creative Director Dorene Warner enlisted the research assistance of local historian and writer Debra Conway, and consulted numerous cited agencies and organizations as informational and photography sources, including the Delaware Highlands Conservancy, MonarchWatch.org, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org, and MillionPollinatorGardens.org.
Five thousand copies of the 16-panel, full-color brochure, which opens up to a 15 x 18-inch poster layout titled “Bring Home the Butterflies… And the Birds & Bees, and Bats & Beetles and Other Pollinators”, were printed by Spencer Printing of Honesdale, PA through the UDC grant. The Delaware Highlands Conservancy contributed $300 to print an additional 1,500 copies for that land trust organization’s distribution.
The brochure addresses the significance of the Monarch declines, their life cycles and cross-continental migration patterns, conservation efforts that can be easily undertaken in one’s back yard to grow milkweed and nectar plants that are critical to Monarchs’ survival, best mowing practices to minimize negative impacts on Monarchs, tips to attract them, lists of available pollinator plants in this area, and how to participate in national campaigns that are underway to protect the species.
The Upper Delaware Scenic Byway, Inc. (UDSB) will coordinate an educational campaign around the availability of the Monarch Butterfly brochures. Committee members are distributing the brochures at public locations throughout their communities.
“This is a powerful story that touches on the natural environment and economic development through ecotourism. We would like to see the Upper Delaware Scenic Byway region become a model for the revitalization of the Monarch Butterfly population by raising awareness of their needs and offering simple ideas to counteract the threats to the species, such as designing gardens that are rich in pollinator-friendly plants, encouraging highway crews to properly time and plan their mowing to preserve critical wildlife habitat, and to get children involved in this movement,” said UDSB, Inc. Chairperson and Town of Highland Representative Glenn Pontier.
The brochures are available for pick-up at the Upper Delaware Council office located at 211 Bridge Street in Narrowsburg, NY (phone 845-252-3022) or by e-mailing a request to: firstname.lastname@example.org.