Mayor's Monarch Pledge 2021

monarch on milkweed

Calling all concerned butterfly & nature lovers – monarchs need our help! The eastern monarch butterfly population is down; they’ve declined 26% from just last year’s population size. So the City of Arvada is participating in the 2021 Mayor’s Monarch Pledge to support the declining populations of Monarch Butterflies through a variety of action items throughout Arvada.

You can join our efforts and celebrate these special pollinators with us at the Nature Center! Join fellow citizen scientists on Thursday, July 1 to learn an help collect conservation data on these pollinators. Then visit the Nature Center on Saturday, August 14 and become a Monarch warrior. Learn about these butterflies, tour the pollinator & milkweed gardens to see what it takes to maintain these areas, see where the nearest pollinator garden is to you, and other free, family fun. 

Why Do Monarchs Need Our Help?

During the past two decades, Monarch butterflies have experienced severe habitat loss and fragmentation, due to climate change, land development and pesticides. Pesticides kill the plants that Monarchs rely on for nectar and laying eggs. Because of this, their population has severely declined by approximately 90% since the 1990s. 

Monarchs are important pollinators that have a large impact on other species. They impact other pollinators, like hummingbirds and bees, as well as humans. This species plays an important role in the production of agricultural crops and they help keep ecosystems balanced and healthy. Monarch butterflies also help with:

  • wildlife conservation
  • water quality
  • reducing CO2 (Carbon Dioxide) in the atmosphere

Monarchs rely solely on a plant called Milkweed, which is native to North America, for laying eggs and feeding the caterpillars. The amount of suitable habitat for Milkweed has decreased, which has severely, negatively impacted the Monarch population. These butterflies are unable to survive without adequate habitat and breeding grounds, but with our help the Monarchs can thrive!

Bar graph of monarch population, 1997 to 2019
Graphic Credit: National Wildlife Federation.

What We're Doing/What is the Pledge?

The Mayors’ Monarch Pledge is a program with the National Wildlife Federation that provides cities an opportunity to be involved in Monarch butterfly conservation. Cities can monitor populations, host events, educate others, and action items to protect Monarch populations. The City of Arvada is working with The Monarch Larva Monitoring Project to collect and submit data about our local Monarch populations and report on our conservation efforts.

This is our second year participating in the Pledge, previously Arvada participated in 2017. In 2021, the City of Arvada completed a variety of action items including planting additional Milkweed patches in Arvada, hosting seed swaps, and maintaining our pollinator-friendly demonstration garden. The City of Arvada’s Majestic View Nature Center is also hosted multiple programs for people of all ages to learn about Monarch butterflies and other pollinators, like bees and hummingbirds. Join us this summer and fall to participate in Monarch butterfly conservation!

To implement the Mayors’ Monarch Pledge in Arvada we committed to 6 action items in 2021 that our community will work on related to monarch conservation. These actions were:

  • Host or support a native seed or plant sale, giveaway or swap. 
  • Facilitate or support a milkweed seed collection and propagation effort.
  • Plant or maintain a monarch and pollinator-friendly demonstration garden at City Hall or another prominent or culturally significant community location.
  • Launch or maintain an outdoor education program(s) (e.g., at schools, after-school programs, community centers and groups) that builds awareness and creates habitat by engaging students, educators, and the community in planting native milkweed and pollinator-friendly native nectar plants.
  • Display educational signage at monarch gardens and pollinator habitat.
  • Direct city property managers to consider the use of native milkweed and nectar plants at city properties where possible.
National Wildlife Federation Mayors' Monarch Pledge Logo
Milkweed at West Woods Golf Course

What we did:

    • COMPLETED: Monarch Warrior Workshop
      • Saturday, August 14, 10 a.m. to noon All ages, free.
        • Celebrate and learn about pollinators and become a Monarch Warrior to help with butterfly conservation. You can join our efforts, tour the pollinator & milkweed gardens, and participate in free, family fun activities. 
    • ONGOING: We offer a school/group program on Becoming Butterflies, talking about pollinators to elementary-aged kids.
    • Kids Guide to Pollinators
        • See additional activities below.
    • COMPLETED: Pollinator BioBlitz Challenge
        • Saturday, September 18, 9 a.m. to noon. All ages, free.
        • Join our BioBlitz to record the Monarchs and other pollinators you see along with their habitat to help us better protect pollinators in our community. Learn about pollinators and help gather conservation data. No experience necessary! 
    • COMPLETED: Fall Milkweed Seed Collection and Swap- Saturday, October 9
        • You can still pick up seeds at the Nature Center while supplies last!
    • COMPLETED: Speak Up Arvada Project-tell us where are pollinator-friendly gardens around Arvada by pinning them on a map of the City. This information tells us where there might be food gaps for migrating monarchs and other pollinators. This allowed us to find 6 additional sites to propagate milkweed 
    • ONGOING: Maintained our demonstration garden as a certified habitat with pollinator and other wildlife-friendly plants. Included in our garden is signage for our milkweed patches as well as an interpretive pollinator sign. 
child with monarch wings

Additional Activities and Information

Watch the video to learn about Monarch butterflies and their population decline, reliance on Milkweed, migration, and what you can do to help protect the species!

Pollinator Gardening Tips:

  • Plant native species of plants!
  • Have shelter for resting insects in your garden.
    • Try placing bee houses, butterfly houses, shrubs or bushes in your garden to provide shelter for insects that need to rest.
  • Plant a variety of plants that bloom at different times.
  • Do not use insecticides or pesticides in your garden.
    • These can kill Monarch butterflies and other insects! They can also kill plants, like Milkweed, that Monarchs depend on. 
  • Plant milkweed in your garden!
  • Have a variety of ground cover.
    • Use mulch, soil and other ground coverings to create a variety of ways for bees and other insects to access underground nests.