Pacific Grove City Council adopts citizen monarch movement.
Thursday, September 2, 2010
A campaign by Pacific Grove residents to lure butterflies back to the P.G. Monarch Grove Sanctuary was officially adopted by the City Council last night.
In an effort to improve the protected butterfly habitat before the October start of the monarchs' overwintering season, the city has agreed to place 10-15 boxed trees (likely eucalyptus and oak) in the sanctuary's southeast corner to help buffer the wind. The cost is estimated at $3,000-$4,000, plus labor and equipment. The council agreed to match funds raised by the citizen group, up to $10,000.
"In addition to the fundamental purposes of stewardship for our unique habitat, the local economy relies on the butterflies to a significant extent," the staff report stated. "According to the Pacific Grove Chamber of Commerce, the Monarch Sanctuary Grove is the community’s single largest tourist draw."
Robert Pacelli, leader of the citizen campaign, agreed to water the boxed trees.
In the meantime, the city has commissioned Stuart Weiss, a scientist with Creekside Center for Earth Observation, to study the P.G. sanctuary in a larger context and make medium- and long-term recommendations for an updated habitat management plan. His report is expected by late October.
Heavy pruning of the sanctuary's eucalyptus trees a year ago may have been responsible for the estimated 96 percent drop in the monarch population there last overwintering season - although, according to butterfly experts, the population simultaneously fell about 90 percent throughout the Central Coast.
The Sept. 1 staff report blames P.G.'s larger drop "in part to outdated habitat management practices, which included large-scale pruning of tree branches on which the butterflies rely for safe harbor." The city staffer responsible for the September 2009 pruning, former Public Works Director Celia Perez Martinez, was terminated in January for undisclosed reasons.