West Chicago Mayor Ruben Pineda announced at the recent State of the City Address that he was proud to have signed the National Wildlife Federation’s (NWF’s) Mayors’ Monarch Pledge in March as a means to bring awareness and to promote action in West Chicago to save the monarch butterfly.
A critical pollinator to the agricultural system, the monarch’s population has declined by over 90 percent in the last twenty years. It is the NWF’s belief that when Mayors speak up and take a stand, citizens listen. A copy of the NWF Mayors’ Monarch Pledge may be found on the City’s website, www.westchicago.org under Government/Mayor for your information, along with the list of twenty-five possible actions the City could take (only three are required) to fulfill the Pledge.
While monarchs are found across the United States — numbering some 1 billion in 1996 — their numbers have declined by approximately 90 percent in recent years, a result of numerous threats, particularly loss of habitat due to agricultural practices, development and cropland conversion. Degradation of wintering habitat in Mexico and California has also had a negative impact on the species.
Community groups in West Chicago including the West Chicago Garden Club, the Green Disciples of the First United Methodist Church (FUMC) of West Chicago and the West Chicago Environmental Commission, advocated for the signing of the Pledge because of its associated benefits to the environment and the high level of community support such a Pledge would bring to implementation measures.
As stated in a letter from the Environmental Commission to the City, there would be little or no cost to the City to implement the action items. The Environmental Commission specifically recommended eight action items that could be accomplished as joint efforts between community partners and the Conservation Foundation. In fact, efforts by the FUMC and Ball Horticultural Company have already begun, with portions of their grounds certified as “monarch way stations” by Monarch Watch, an organization also concerned about the survival of the monarch butterfly.
Through the NWFs Mayors’ Monarch Pledge, cities and municipalities commit to creating habitats and educating citizens on ways they can make a difference in their very own home. “Mayors and other local government officials play a pivotal role in advancing monarch butterfly conservation in urban and suburban areas,” said Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. “By working together we can ensure that every American child has a chance to experience majestic monarchs in their backyards and communities.”