At their December 13, 2016 meeting, the Naperville Park District Board of Commissioners adopted a resolution to “enhance and expand available habitat for Monarch butterflies and other native pollinators.”
The idea for a resolution came from a local advocacy group, the DuPage Monarch Project, whose members approached the Park District in October 2016 with a request to further enhance Monarch butterfly habitat already present in the District’s parks and to increase awareness of the Monarch’s plight.
The resolution explains that the Monarch butterfly population has declined 90% in the past two decades, partly due to the loss of milkweed plants, which are the only plants on which Monarchs lay their eggs and are the caterpillar’s only food source.
“DuPage Monarch Project is pleased Naperville Park District has joined Warrenville Park District, Fox Valley Park District, City of Warrenville, City of Elmhurst and the Village of Carol Stream in pledging to take action on behalf of Monarchs,” explained Lonnie Morris, Coordinator of the DuPage Monarch Project. “DuPage County is strategically located in the central flyway used by the Monarchs for their migrating journeys and is in a position to make a contribution to their recovery. With the leaders’ commitment and the generous number of acres available in the parks, the Park District will have many opportunities to make an impact for Monarchs.”
One of the Naperville Park District’s core values is environmental education, stewardship and sustainability. “The Monarch butterfly resolution is consistent with the Park District’s ongoing initiatives to maintain milkweed and other native pollinator plants in our parks, “said Director of Recreation Brad Wilson. “The Park District also offers nature based classes, educational information on its website and interpretive signs at the Ron Ory Community Garden Plots, Knoch Knolls Nature Center, and throughout the District, explaining the benefits of native plants.”
Native plants bloom around Knoch Knolls Nature Center, the Park District’s center for environmental education. (Photo by Naperville Park District)
Going forward, the resolution authorizes Park District staff to take the following actions:
• Increase plantings of milkweed and other native pollinator plants on Park District lands
• Install signs near Monarch-friendly plantings to increase public awareness
• Provide education on how to design a Monarch way station
• Refrain from using pesticides and herbicides in areas with milkweed during Monarch butterfly breeding periods
• Refrain from using insecticides in milkweed areas at all times
Emily Hansen and Kathleen McTighe are Naperville residents involved in the Monarch Project who were part of the group that presented their concerns to the Park Board.
“I joined this project because I’m worried about the decline of Monarch butterflies and want to support them by providing suitable habitat, especially since milkweed is so important to their survival,” said Emily Hansen. “To me, the presence and health of Monarch butterflies, bees, and other pollinators are signs of a healthy environment. When pollinators are flying around plants, searching for nectar, and moving pollen it shows a system that works.”
Hansen, McTighe and Morris were thrilled that the Park Board adopted the Monarch resolution.
“The Naperville Park District continues to impress me by leading as a steward and upholding its values of community and sustainability,” said Hansen. “The steps the District is taking will help ensure that future generations can enjoy nature and the wonder of a Monarch butterfly,” added McTighe.