Cross Pollination

The number of monarchs visiting Pacific Grove’s sanctuary continues to dwindle. As of Jan. 3 only 169 butterflies were counted.

Western monarch butterflies are facing population numbers so dire – last year’s count during the overwintering migration on the West Coast was less than 1 percent of an estimated historic high – some scientists are worried they will go extinct. The emergency has sparked a migration of humans hoping to help: 160 monarch advocates from 16 states are gathering in Carmel Valley from Jan. 10-12 for the first-of-its-kind Monarch Summit 2020.

The idea was born out of talk in the fall of 2018 between grassroots advocates in southern Oregon, home to habitats where monarchs stop along the way to and from overwintering sites. They noted the dozens of nonprofits and agencies focused on helping Western monarchs that don’t always talk with each other and decided it was time everyone came together and compare notes, says organizer Robert Coffan of Southern Oregon Monarch Advocates.

They chose Monterey County for the opportunity to show attendees, some from as far away as Massachusetts and Hawaii, overwintering sites along the coast. Field trips to the Pacific Grove Monarch Sanctuary are planned all three days.

The $175 summit quickly sold out and there are about 25 people on the waiting list. Keynote speakers Robert Pyle, founder of the Xerces Society, and Chip Taylor, founder of Monarch Watch, are scheduled to address the summit. Other speakers include university researchers, government representatives and citizen scientists.

The summit’s goal is to create a space for everyone to network, share information and “go back and do whatever they do better,” Coffan says. “The end result is the monarchs will win.”

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