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Saving the monarch butterfly population in Bakersfield

60 acres being used at the Panorama Vista Preserve
Posted at 5:10 AM, Apr 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-15 10:13:42-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — River Partners is an organization dedicated to helping wildlife, and that includes the monarch butterfly. They’re using acres of land at the Panorama Vista Preserve to ensure the monarch doesn’t go extinct.

“I think that it’s a pretty special line of work to be in where I could think that something I do actually might have an impact on a species that I know a lot of people care about," said Claire Pavelka.

Pavelka is a biologist with River Partners. She said in the 1980s there were roughly 4.5 million monarch butterflies in the United States. In the most recent count there were less than 2,000.

“It’s largely due to habitat loss and pesticide use," said Pavelka.

She said monarchs are important pollinators for our food sources and biodiversity.

“Without things like monarchs, birds and the hawks and other animals wouldn’t be able to survive without them in the food chain," said Pavelka.

Monarchs breed exclusively on milkweed. It gives them nutrition and a chemical that protects them from being eaten.

“Without the plant, the monarchs wouldn’t have their life cycle, so as habitat loss is such a big reason why they’re in such sharp decline, it’s important that we are creating more habitat for them here," said Pavelka.

Which is why River Partners is using 60 acres at the preserve to plant more milkweed.

Field Restoration Manager Frank Reynoso said they hope this will help the monarch butterfly bring its population numbers back up.

"Hopefully the species will come back and then while you’re out here, you see more native animals come back, so it’s a great thing to see," he said.

And you can help by asking your local nursery about planting milkweed in your own backyard.

To learn more about River Partners, click here.