New Trier Township heightening efforts to preserve Monarch butterflies

New Trier Township heightening efforts to preserve Monarch butterflies

New Trier Township is continuing its efforts to preserve the monarch butterfly by committing to take three specific actions over the next year.

For the second consecutive year, township officials have announced they will sign the Mayor’s Monarch Pledge from the National Wildlife Federation through a formal vote at the May Township Board of Trustees meeting.

Through this program, local governments state they will take on three initiatives to preserve the dwindling numbers of monarch butterflies.

“Townships, including New Trier, historically worked to prevent the growth of ‘noxious weeds,’ which likely had detrimental impacts on butterfly and other insect populations,” said New Trier Township Supervisor Gail Schnitzer Eisenberg. “I am glad that our township is now taking steps to encourage our beautiful native plants thrive.”

Specifically, the township plans to issue a proclamation detailing the declining numbers of the butterfly and its need for habitat, according to township spokeswoman Melanie Berman.

The township will help by supporting a native seed or plant sale, giveaway or swap and assist in a milkweed seed collections or propagation efforts. In 2023, the township both hosted and promoted an art sale detailing the need for conservation efforts.

“Cities, towns and counties play a pivotal role in advancing monarch butterfly conservation in urban and suburban areas,” noted Patrick Fitzgerald, senior director of community wildlife at the National Wildlife Federation, in the statement. “By working together, we can ensure that every American child has a chance to experience majestic monarchs in their communities.”

According to the National Wildlife Federation, the monarch butterflies population reached nearly 1 billion about 30 years ago. The organization reports those numbers have significantly decreased due to urban development, modern agricultural practices and cropland conversion.

The pledge requests communities to choose from a selection of 30 actions to preserve the butterfly.

Glencoe resident Betsy Leibson, the co-founder of the Friends of the Green Bay Trail, has spoken frequently of the need for preservation efforts.

“It’s great news that other people are concerned about the decline of the monarch butterfly,” Leibson said. “The monarch is the canary in the coal mine. It is raising awareness about many other animals that are endangered and threatened by the same issues that are threatening the monarch.”

Other local communities taking the pledge include Wilmette, Winnetka and Evanston.

Daniel I. Dorfman is a freelance reporter with Pioneer Press.

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