VIDEO RELEASE: Merkley Discusses Saving Western Monarch Butterfly at Oregon Zoo Event After Introducing Two Bills to Protect the Species from Extinction

Washington, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley teamed up with Congressman Jimmy Panetta (D-CA-20) this week to introduce two pieces of legislation—the Monarch Action, Recovery, and Conservation of Habitat (MONARCH) Act and the Monarch and Pollinator Highway Act—which would help prevent the extinction of the western monarch butterfly and other critically important pollinators.

“We’ve all experienced the moment of childhood joy and excitement when we spot a butterfly dancing in the air,” said Senator Merkley.  “If we let the western monarch butterfly go extinct, we’ll lose a unique, beautiful species forever. Every day that we don’t implement experts’ conservation plans inches us a little closer to that reality. We can’t let that happen.”

Merkley discussed the bills in a live panel discussion with the Oregon Zoo and the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation today.

Click here for a video of the conversation.

The MONARCH Act would provide urgent protections for the struggling western monarch butterfly, an iconic and important butterfly whose population has dropped by 99% since the 1980s. This legislation 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.

The Monarch and Pollinator Highway Act would establish a federal grant program available to state departments of transportation and Native American tribes to carry out pollinator-friendly practices on roadsides and highway rights-of-way.  This legislation would help address the steep decline of pollinator populations, which poses a serious threat to farmers and the American food supply.

“We strongly support efforts to save the western monarch, and we applaud Sen. Merkley and the Xerces Society for their tireless work to protect pollinators,” said Bob Lee, Oregon Zoo general curator. “At the zoo, we’ve been working with partners to restore native Northwest butterflies like the Taylor’s checkerspot and Oregon silverspot, which nearly disappeared from the region due to habitat loss.”

“The monarch migration in the western US is on the verge of collapse and monarchs in the east have severely declined,” said Scott Black, Executive Director of the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.  “The Monarch Act and the Monarch and Pollinator Highway Act would provide a substantial boost in habitat restoration that could be the lifeline monarchs and other pollinators need to survive.”  

Full text of the MONARCH Act is available here.

Full text of the Monarch and Pollinator Highway Act is available here.