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A butterfly covered in white spots with orange and yellow wings perched on a purple flower.
Information icon A monarch butterfly on a purple plant with bright colors in the background. Photo by Christine Lisiewski.

Fish and Wildlife Service partners with Rosalynn Carter Butterfly Trail to save the monarch butterfly

Plains, Georgia – The Monarch butterfly got a boost today.

As part of a broad, national effort to conserve habitat for the declining Monarch butterfly, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is joining forces with former President Jimmy Carter and Rosalynn Carter and investing $130,000 to expand the Rosalynn Carter Butterfly Trail.

The Service’s Southeast Regional Director Cindy Dohner announced the partnership to restore important habitat for the butterfly at a monarch conservation workshop attended by educators from around Georgia. 

The Service’s investment in the Rosalynn Carter Butterfly Trail will add 100 sites along the monarch’s migration routes, and the pollinator gardens resulting from this partnership will assure new monarch habitat in schools, parks, and urban centers throughout the Southeast. 

While monarchs are found across the United States — as recently as 1996 numbering some 1 billion — their numbers have declined by about 90 percent in recent years, a result of numerous threats, particularly the loss of habitat and mortality resulting from pesticide use.  Native milkweed, the monarch caterpillar’s sole food source, has been eradicated or severely degraded in many areas across the United States in recent years.  The accelerated conversion of the continent’s native short and tallgrass prairie habitat to crop production has also had an adverse impact on the monarch.

“We can help the monarch butterfly if we act quickly and together,” Dohner said.  “That’s why I’m excited to work with President and Mrs. Carter to expand the Rosalynn Carter Butterfly Trail.  Together we will create oases for monarchs in communities across the Southeast and build on efforts occurring across the country.”

The investment in the Rosalynn Carter Butterfly Trail is part of the Service’s cooperative effort to build a network of diverse conservation partners and stakeholders to protect and restore important monarch habitat, while also reaching out to Americans of all ages who can play a central role.  In addition to creating pollinator gardens, the Service and the Rosalynn Carter Butterfly Trail are working together and with other conservation partners in Georgia to conduct teacher workshops that will help to bring monarch conservation to both classrooms and school yards.  

The Rosalynn Carter Butterfly Trail, established in April 2013, raises awareness of the monarch’s plight and encourages the conservation of butterflies and their habitats.  Most of the trail’s 112 sites are located in Georgia.  Additional sites are found throughout the United States as well as in Canada and Japan.  Public and private butterfly gardens may join the Rosalynn Carter Butterfly Trail by visiting jimmycarter.info/CarterButterflyTrail.htm.   

The monarch is perhaps the best-known butterfly species in the United States.  Every year it undertakes one of the world’s most remarkable migrations, traveling thousands of miles from Mexico, across the United States, to Canada.

Spectacular as it is, protecting the monarch is not just about saving one species.  The monarch serves as an indicator of the health of pollinators and the American landscape.  Monarch declines are symptomatic of environmental problems that pose risks to our food supply, the spectacular natural places that help define our national identity, and our own health.  Conserving and connecting habitat for monarchs will benefit other plants, animals and important insect and avian pollinators.

For more information about the Service’s efforts to save the monarch butterfly, please visit fws.gov/savethemonarch/.

Contact

Phil Kloer
404-679-7299

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. For more information on our work and the people who can make it happen, visit fws.gov. Connect with the Service on Facebook, follow our tweets, watch the YouTube Channel and download photos from Flickr.

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