Christian Unkenholz, Office of Congressman Jimmy Panetta, 202.451.1249, [email protected]
Scott Hoffman Black, Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, (503) 449-3792, [email protected]
PORTLAND, Ore., June 26, 2023 – United States Representative Jimmy Panetta (CA-19) reintroduced the House version of the bicameral Monarch Action, Recovery, and Conservation of Habitat (MONARCH) Act. The legislation – authored by Rep. Panetta and co-led by Rep. Salud Carbajal (CA-24) – would expand support for the preservation, protection, and restoration of natural habitats for the western monarch butterfly, a symbol for both California and the West Coast. Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) has introduced companion legislation in the U.S. Senate.
The MONARCH Act would provide urgent protections for the struggling western monarch butterfly. An iconic and vital pollinator, the western monarch population has declined by more than 95% since the 1980s, reaching a historic low of less than 2,000 monarch butterflies overwintering in central California in 2020. Habitat destruction, the loss of milkweed, and prolific pesticide use are the largest drivers of monarch population decline. While the recent 2022-2023 season saw a significant increase in monarchs, with close to 335,500 butterflies observed, more must be done.
“Although my 19th Congressional District is home to numerous overwintering sites, we continue to experience a significant decrease in the population of the western monarch butterfly,” said Rep. Panetta. “As someone who grew up on the Central Coast experiencing and appreciating the contributions of this essential pollinator to our agriculture and culture, I feel it is my responsibility as a federal representative to put forward this type of legislation that would help protect and perpetuate the western monarch butterfly.”
The MONARCH Act has been endorsed by the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the National Wildlife Federation, and the Center for Biological Diversity.
“Monarch migration is one of the most spectacular shows on Earth, but unfortunately western monarch populations have declined by over 95%,” said Scott Black, executive director of the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation. “The MONARCH Act will help provide the resources needed to recover western monarch populations so that our kids and grandkids can enjoy and delight in this migration for generations to come.”
The MONARCH Act would authorize $62.5 million for projects aimed at conserving the western monarch and an additional $62.5 million to implement the Western Monarch Butterfly Conservation Plan, which was prepared by the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies in January 2019. The $62.5 million in funding for each effort would be divided into five annual installments of $12.5 million.
“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. That's why I worked with Congressman Panetta and my other colleagues in Congress to secure $10 million in our last federal budget to promote butterfly conservation,” said Rep. Carbajal. “Renewing our push for the MONARCH Act in this Congress will allow us to build on those investments and ensure that the monarch butterfly habitats are protected for generations to come.”
“We've all experienced the moment of childhood joy and excitement when we spot a butterfly dancing in the air,” said Senator Merkley. “Though western monarch populations were already in peril, this year’s extreme winter storms have hit overwintering monarchs hard and made addressing this threat even more urgent. Protecting monarch butterflies and other pollinators is a critical issue that requires sustainable solutions, and we must do everything we can to implement experts’ conservation plans and save these species before time runs out.”
The MONARCH Act is cosponsored by Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Martin Heinrich (D-NM).
Final bill text can be found here.