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Monarch Butterfly – Garland Community Garden – Garland Texas – photo by Robert Opel September 26, 2015

 

Statewide Our Texas Communities Are Ramping Up to Save the Monarch!

And I’m happy to report that my own particular community of Garland Texas is part of this movement in the DFW area.  This morning at a joint press announcement held at the George W. Bush Presidential Center, Collin O’Mara, President and CEO National Wildlife Federation mentioned that Garland is among the cities whose mayors have signed the National Wildlife Federation’s Mayor’s Monarch Pledge to take action and who, in fact, already are taking action to move this worthy initiative forward.

This morning’s joint press announcement of the Monarch Butterfly Conservation Plan for Texas included moving presentations made by Mrs. Laura Bush, Founder of Texan by Nature; Dan Ashe, Director US Fish and Wildlife Service; Carter Smith, Executive Director Texas Parks and Wildlife Department; and Collin O’Mara, President and CEO National Wildlife Federation.

Four organizations have joined together launch a heroic effort to bring the Monarchs back from the brink of extinction. 

This morning Carter Smith of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department threw down the challenging gauntlet:  225 million Monarchs by 2020. 

Texas Parks & Wildlife Department
http://tpwd.texas.gov/monarch

 

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Federation
Http://www.fws.gov/savethemnarch/

 

National Wildlife Federation
http://www.nwf.org/Pollinators/Monarch.aspx

 

Texan by Nature
http://texanbynature.org

 

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As I listened to these four great speakers this morning, I couldn’t help but draw parallels between what they were saying what I’ve already observed happening in the City of Garland.   

Garland has much in common with Mrs. Laura Bush’s aspirations for habitat conservation.

For example, Mrs. Laura Bush spoke of landscaping at the Bush library, which she and President George Bush decided should include the plants found in the Blackland Prairie—a great and wonderful tribute to this region.  For those who may not know, the Blackland Prairie is an eco-region that includes the DFW area.  This area begins on the north from the Red River and extends southwesterly down to San Antonio. The Texas Blackland Prairie is the most endangered ecosystem in the USA. Agriculture and urbanization have left less than 1 percent of this once vast prairie that covered almost 20,000 square miles.

 Former First Lady Laura Bush also mentioned that she and the president have talked about turning their ranch into a Monarch conservatory.

The City of Garland feels the same way in regard to preserving the memory of our Blackland Prairie as we have numerous patches where we grow the native grasses that were once found in the Blackland Prairie.  Our two largest areas are Rosehill Park and Springcreek Forest Preserve.

1)Rosehill Park is a 75-acre prairie located north of Country Club Road across from Lyle Middle School in Garland. There is a good diversity of native grasses and forbs, including Indian Grass, Big Bluestem, Little Bluestem, Eastern Gama, Side-oats Grama, and Threeawn (Aristida purpurea).   

2) Springcreek Forest Preserve – perhaps the greatest natural treasure of Garland.  John White of The Nature Conservatory believes that it is very unlikely that any other forest like the one along Spring Creek exists in the nation. Over 650 species of plants & animals have been observed. This does not include dragonflies, spiders, mites, beetles, ants and a host of other organisms. Scientists, conservationists, and nature buffs alike agree this place must be preserved as a biological museum to be used for study and enjoyment.  In a cooperative effort, The City of Garland and The Preservation Society for Spring Creek Forest has been established to ensure that it is.

The Garland Community Garden, stewarded by Loving Garland Green, also has two small plots to honor our once great ecosystem:  a patch of various grasses and wildflowers that once populated the Blackland Prairie and also a patch of Buffalo Grass lawn.  Buffalo Grass is the only native turf grass in North America.  Many of our citizens have butterfly gardens with habitats to support our pollinators.  For example, Kala King has thus far this year released nine monarchs and will soon release three more.  Several members of Loving Garland Green have butterfly gardens.  The entire Garland Community Garden can be considered as on giant pollinator habitat--just as the bees in our hive.

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Texas Monarch and Native Pollinator Conservation Plan – Executive Summary

A key element regarding this plan is that it also addresses the needs and critical concern for other pollinators designated as “Species of Greatest Conservation Need” (SGCN).  The SGCN and the Monarch are dependent upon similar habitat features.  Thus much of the actions we take to save the glamorous Monarch will also benefit our other pollinators.

Texas will play a critical role in conservation efforts aimed at the monarch conservation because of its strategic position along the Monarch’s migratory pathway.  Monarchs pass through Texas in the spring as they migrate north from the Mexican highlands, and they pass through Texas again in the fall (late September and October) as they migrate back to their winter habitat in the Mexican highlands.

This plan outlines actions in Texas that will contribute to Monarch and overall native pollinator conservation in Texas by highlighting four broad categories of monarch and native pollinator conservation:  habitat conservation, education and outreach, research and monitoring, and partnerships.

The conservation plan details specific actions associated with each of these categories by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) and other stakeholders.  TPWD will continue to develop this plan as new stakeholders are identified and become engaged in this collaboration.

Read the entire plan here:  http://tpwd.texas.gov/publications/pwdpubs/media/pwd_rp_w7000_2070.pdf 

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What can you do as an individual to save the monarchs?

  • Convince your mayor to sign the Mayors’ Monarch Pledge from the National Wildlife Federation.  (Mayor Athas has signed it for Garland.)   Once the leadership of your community is behind such an effort, things begin to happen. The pledge is located at www.nwf.org/mayorsmonarchpledge
  • Join an organization such as Loving Garland Green and work with them to assist schools in planting butterfly gardens in their schoolyards.
  • If you are a parent, get members of the PTA involved in creating a butterfly habitat at your child’s school.  A garden is a great backdrop for engaging students in learning many things—from math to art.
  • Plant some milkweed in your yard.
  • Be sure to visit the websites of all four agencies who are participating in launching this great plan.   Many of them offer grants and special support to make it even easier for individuals to save the Monarchs.
  • Create a certified wildlife garden in your own backyard.  More at: http://www.nwf.org/How-to-Help/Garden-for-Wildlife/Certify-Your-Wildlife-Garden.aspx?campaignid=WH09ASLP&s_src=CWH_GoogleMini_habitats
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