This week U.S. Reps. Salud Carbajal and Rep. Jimmy Panetta highlighted the $10 million investment in monarch butterfly and pollinator conservation they secured in the federal funding package passed at the end of 2022.
The $10 million in federal funds — a $6 million increase over what was approved for the prior fiscal year — includes $3 million made available through the Monarch and Pollinator Highway Program, which was created as part of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act in 2021 with the support of Reps. Panetta and Carbajal.
“I proudly represent two major monarch groves on the Central Coast of California: Pismo Beach and Goleta — both of which have been devastated by the dramatic drop off of monarch populations that we have seen over the past two decades. This decline has been a wake-up call for scientists, conservationists, and lovers of the monarch who come from far and wide to see their splendor each year,” said Rep. Carbajal, D-Santa Barbara, in a news release.
The grove in Goleta is the Ellwood Main Monarch Butterfly Grove at Ellwood Mesa.
Rep. Carbajal said he is pleased with the increase in federal resources and plans to continue to work with Rep. Panetta, a Democrat whose Central Coast district includes San Luis Obispo County, to see resources implemented to help the region.
The Monarch and Pollinator Highway Program promotes pollinator-friendly practices on roadsides and highway rights-of-way, including the planting and seeding of native, locally appropriate grasses, wildflowers and milkweed. Funding is available for state departments of transportation and Native American tribes to better conserve pollinator habitats and populations.
Additional funds signed by President Joe Biden for Fiscal Year 2023 are provided to the Department of the Interior to support western monarchs and other pollinators through the National Wildlife Refuge System, as well as $3 million to support scientific research.
During the last Congress, Rep. Panetta, alongside U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., reintroduced the bipartisan, bicameral Monarch Action, Recovery, and Conservation of Habitat (MONARCH) Act as well as the Monarch and Pollinator Highway Act. Rep. Carbajal was a co-lead for both efforts. The leaders plan to reintroduce the MONARCH Act in the 118th Congress.
It is estimated that monarch butterfly populations have decreased by 95% since the 1980s. After nearing historic lows, western monarch populations rebounded from 2,000 butterflies in 2020 to more than 247,000 in 2021.