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US Fish & Wildlife Service FieldNotes

SAN DIEGO BAY NWR: Conservation Leaders Plant Milkweed for Monarchs With Girl Scouts

Region 8, April 15, 2015
From left: Pacific Southwest Regional Director Ren Lohoefner, National Commissioner of CONANP Luis Fueyo, USFWS Director Dan Ashe, and Director General for Canadian Wildlife Service Sue Milburn-Hopwood.
From left: Pacific Southwest Regional Director Ren Lohoefner, National Commissioner of CONANP Luis Fueyo, USFWS Director Dan Ashe, and Director General for Canadian Wildlife Service Sue Milburn-Hopwood. - Photo Credit: n/a
Girl Scout Troop #5912 proudly leading the color guard representing Canada, the USA, and Mexico.
Girl Scout Troop #5912 proudly leading the color guard representing Canada, the USA, and Mexico. - Photo Credit: n/a
Regional Director Ren Lohoefner plants a young black sage with the Girl Scouts' guidance.
Regional Director Ren Lohoefner plants a young black sage with the Girl Scouts' guidance. - Photo Credit: n/a

By Lisa Cox

The 20th annual Trilateral Committee for Wildlife and Conservation and Management convened this week in San Diego, California to address continentally-significant priorities across Canada, the United States of America, and Mexico. A very fitting theme of Monarch butterflies centered around the conference because of its migratory path across these very nations. Much of the time was devoted to discussing Monarch population targets, research, and monitoring that leverages existing citizen science.

During this week-long meeting, the best minds in conservation gathered together for a unique and special event one afternoon on Sweetwater Marsh at San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge that symbolized the efforts among these countries.

To kick it off, Regional Director Ren Lohoefner introduced the color guard of Girl Scout troop #5912 as they respectfully marched the waving flags of each country to the front of the audience. Project Leader of the San Diego NWR Complex, Andy Yuen, then introduced the leaders of the wildlife agencies present: Dan Ashe, Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), Luis Fueyo MacDonald, National Commissioner of CONANP (National Commission for Natural Protected Areas), and Sue Milburn-Hopwood, Director General for Canadian Wildlife Service. They all had a few words to say about the future survival of the monarch in the nations’ hands.

“In planting this milkweed, it’s certainly about the butterflies that will use it, but it’s about the future. It’s not just this project, it’s the thousands of other projects that are going to go throughout Mexico, the United States, and into Canada,” said Dan Ashe.
“It’s really nice to see the girl scouts and to see the important activities that you’re all involved in here, protecting and conserving nature,” said Sue Milburn-Hopwood.

“Today, we’ll create habitat for monarch butterfly. I am sure that this event will repeat in Mexico, in all the states, and also Canada,” said Luis Fueyo.

Then came the fun part: planting native plants with refuge staff and local Girl Scout troops #5912 and #6149. About 90 native plants were planted in an impressive 15 minutes that day including native narrow-leaved milkweed; for not just these special butterflies but other native pollinators. Planting milkweed that day was special because it was a symbol of their international efforts together during the past 20 years in conserving endangered species.

In February of this year, the Service signed a cooperative agreement with the National Wildlife Federation and National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to pledge $2 million in immediate funding for on-the-ground projects. All these partners are working hand in hand with many others under the wing of the Monarch Joint Venture organization. Now, these young girl scouts could inspire others to plant the same plants to help ensure these pollinators for future generations of Americans. “We planted them, and they’re going to grow and then Monarch butterflies are going to come and eat them, and then they won’t be extinct,” said Cadet Girl Scout Orian Martinez.

Anybody can help the monarch - it's easy! Just plant native plants at home, or get involved with your nearest Refuge or nature preserve to volunteer in restoring habitats.

To find out how YOU can help the monarch, visit: www.fws.gov/savethemonarch

For Director Dan Ashe’s thoughts on the event, please visit: http://go.usa.gov/3WwyZB

-- FWS --

 

Lisa Cox is a public affairs officer and visitor services specialist at the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge Complex.

Contact Info: Lisa Cox, 619.476.9150 ext. 106, lisa_cox@fws.gov