U.S. Representatives Salud Carbajal (CA-24) and Jimmy Panetta (CA-19) highlighted the $10 million investment in critical monarch butterfly and pollinator conservation they secured in the federal funding package passed at the end of last year.
The $10 million in federal funds, a $6 million increase over what was approved for the prior fiscal year, includes $3 million made available through the Monarch and Pollinator Highway Program, which was created as part of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act in 2021 with the support of Panetta and Carbajal.
“I proudly represent two major monarch groves on the Central Coast of California: Pismo Beach and Goleta – both of which have been devastated by the dramatic drop off of monarch populations that we have seen over the past two decades. This decline has been a wake-up call for scientists, conservationists, and lovers of the monarch who come from far and wide to see their splendor each year,” said Rep. Carbajal. “I’m pleased we were able to secure this important increase in federal resources for preserving and growing the monarch populations in our region and across the western United States. I will continue working with Congressman Panetta and our local stakeholders to see these resources implemented to help our region and build on this success with additional resources for the coming years.”
“The decline of monarch butterfly populations poses a serious threat to our environment, farmers, food supply, and the very character of our communities in California,” said Rep. Panetta. “This funding for the newly created Monarch and Pollinator Highway Program is critical to empowering state and local governments to restore the habitats of these essential pollinators. For generations, many Californians, including me and my family, have had the privilege of experiencing the migration of the western monarch butterfly, and providing funding for more habitats is the least that we can do to ensure the survival of this amazing species.”
The Monarch and Pollinator Highway Program promotes pollinator-friendly practices on roadsides and highway rights-of-way, including the planting and seeding of native, locally appropriate grasses, wildflowers, and milkweed. Funding is available for state departments of transportation and Native American tribes to better conserve pollinator habitats and populations.
Additional funds signed by President Biden for Fiscal Year 2023 are provided to the Department of the Interior to support western monarchs and other pollinators through the National Wildlife Refuge System, as well as $3 million to support scientific research.
Last Congress, Rep. Panetta, alongside Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR), reintroduced the bipartisan, bicameral Monarch Action, Recovery, and Conservation of Habitat (MONARCH) Act as well as the Monarch and Pollinator Highway Act. Rep. Carbajal was a co-lead for both efforts. The leaders plan to reintroduce the MONARCH Act in the 118th Congress.
It is estimated that monarch butterfly populations have decreased by 95 percent since the 1980s. After nearing historic lows, western monarch populations rebounded from 2,000 butterflies in 2020 to more than 247,000 in 2021.