In Texas, there’s been a job opening for what you might call a monarch over Monarchs. The formal title is “Monarch Outreach Specialist.”
The challenge? To get the Monarch butterfly to return to Texas, where their numbers seem to have been dropping.
O’Mara says that Grace Burnett is starting in the federation’s Austin office outreach specialist for Monarch butterflies. The position involves reaching out to mayors from major cities to encourage cooperation.
“Right now the populations across North America have declined by 90 percent,” O’Mara says. “A big reason for that is habitat.”
O’Mara says some people question the cost or have to be convinced it it an important issue, “but once they hear about it, they want to help.”
This position will help Texas band with other states in the monarchs’ migration path, which stretches from Canada to Mexico. They’re “particularly concerned about the I-35 corridor.”
“Across this country, particularly in the flyway, we have become pretty good at eradicating milkweed,” O’Mara says.
O’Mara says folks can get involve in less official ways and he says he hopes to bring about change through community outreach. The National Wildlife Federation launched the Mayors’ Monarch Pledge and Austin mayor Steve Adler was the first in Texas to sign, O’Mara says. The goal is to have mayors across the country committed to helping monarchs like planting milkweed on city grounds.