P.G. group seeks donations to improve butterfly habitat.
Friday, August 6, 2010
Pacific Grove monarch lovers who blame heavy tree pruning on last winter's low butterfly count are launching a campaign to lure the insects back to "Butterfly Town U.S.A.'s" Monarch Grove Sanctuary.
"In September 2009, trees that provided critical overwintering habitat for monarch butterflies were greatly impacted from pruning…[that] removed much of the middle canopy of trees, which provides wind break and storm shelter," writes activist and filmmaker Bob Pacelli. "Personally, I witnessed hundreds of monarchs unsuccessfully struggling to cluster in their favorite roosting spots, only to be blown to the ground."
Pacelli suspects the trimming caused the dramatic drop in monarchs counted in the sanctuary in the 2009-10 overwintering season: about 900 by one estimate, compared with almost 20,000 the preceding year. (CalPoly's Monarch Alert program put the February total at less than 1 percent of the 25,000 expected.)
To help boost butterfly numbers this year, Pacelli and other P.G. residents and butterfly enthusiasts are buying boxed trees to temporarily fill the gaps and provide wind breaks.
One tree is already placed, but the group aims to add about 20 more by the end of September, in time for the monarchs' October arrival. They ask supporters to send donations with a note marked "Monarch Habitat Trees" to: P.G. Chamber of Commerce, 584 Central Ave., Pacific Grove, CA 93950.
The city staffer in charge of the pruning, former public works director Celia Perez Martinez, was let go in January. The city did not release the reasons for her dismissal. She had maintained that the low monarch count could not be conclusively blamed on the trimming, as butterfly populations are impacted by various factors.