Nashville Mayor Megan Barry First in Tennessee to Take the Monarch Pledge in National Effort
The monarch butterfly is an iconic North American species, whose multigenerational migration and metamorphosis from caterpillar to butterfly has captured the imagination of millions of Americans. But the monarch population has declined by more than 90 percent over the last two decades.
As part of a National Wildlife Federation initiative to Save the Monarchs, the Tennessee Wildlife Federation (TWF) and Tennessee Municipal League (TML) are urging mayors across the state to take actions that can help bring the monarchs back. Nashville Mayor Megan Barry became the first to sign on to the Monarch Pledge November 10th, joining dozens of mayors across the country who have gotten involved.
“There’s so much that we can do as municipalities to make a difference here, from providing habitat in public spaces to helping citizens understand what they can do to help,” Mayor Barry said. “Something as simple as planting milkweed in the garden at home or at schools and businesses can provide critical habitat for the monarchs and other pollinators that play a huge role in our ecosystem. I’m proud to be a part of this initiative and encourage other mayors across the state of Tennessee to get involved in helping bring back the monarchs.”
Twenty years ago, more than one billion Eastern monarch butterflies migrated to Mexico. In the winter of 2014, only 60 million made the trip. Monarch scientists attribute the decline to degradation and loss of summer breeding habitat in the U.S., and loss of winter habitat in Mexico. Western populations of monarch butterflies that overwinter in California are also in decline.
Through the National Wildlife Federation’s Mayors’ Monarch Pledge, cities and municipalities commit to create habitat and educate citizens on the ways they can make a difference at home or in their community. Mayors who take the pledge commit to at least three of 25 action items to help save the monarch butterfly. These actions can include creating a monarch-friendly demonstration garden at city hall, converting abandoned lots to monarch habitat, changing mowing schedules to allow milkweed to grow unimpeded and 22 other possible actions.
More than 220 mayors have now committed to take action for the monarch butterfly in the coming year. Mayor Barry has agreed to lead the City of Nashville in taking a number of positive actions, including: planting a monarch-friendly demonstration garden at City Hall; working with city parks and public works staff to review mowing and planting programs; reaching out to community gardening groups to share knowledge and encourage involvement; and issuing an official Metro Nashville proclamation recognizing the Monarch Pledge.
Tennessee Wildlife Federation CEO Mike Butler says Mayor Barry is staking a leadership role on an issue that has far-reaching implications.
“Monarch butterflies are not only pretty to see in the wild and an indicator of a healthy environment, but they also play an important part as pollinators,” Butler said. “Pollinating insects are necessary to our entire food ecosystem, and when tens of millions of a species are missing from that process, it makes a big impact. The good news is that they can be restored, and everyone can play a role by taking small steps to contribute.”
Dyersburg Mayor John Holden, who currently serves as president of the Tennessee Municipal League, sees an opportunity for the volunteer state to make a difference.
“We’re proud to be a part of this effort and are eager to work with our member communities in building upon Mayor Barry’s leadership across all 95 counties,” Holden said.
Learn more at www.NWF.org/MayorsMonarchPledge.