Anger flutters over ‘Butterfly Town USA’

By Steve Chawkins
Los Angeles Times

Pacific Grove residents demand the city make up for last year’s pruning that reduced the eucalyptus branches in a monarch sanctuary. What if the butterflies don’t return, they ask.

Reporting from Pacific Grove, Calif. — In Pacific Grove, you don’t rile butterflies or the people who love them. Monarch butterflies are as much a part of Pacific Grove as movies are of Hollywood. The city of 15,000 calls itself “Butterfly Town USA.” A municipal ordinance imposes a fine of $1,000 for butterfly molestation. In a rite of passage known to all Pacific Grove parents, kindergarteners are decked out for the annual Butterfly Parade with black-and-orange wings — a tradition since 1939.

So last fall, when a city contractor did what many see as an overly zealous pruning job in the town’s famous Monarch Grove Sanctuary, residents were angry. And when a butterfly census found only 793 migrating monarchs – down from more than 17,800 at the same time the year before — tourists stayed away. Business for the season plummeted by more than 25%.

At a City Council meeting last week, Mayor Carmelita Garcia apologized for the city’s mismanagement of the tree cutting, calling it “a horrible mistake.” In the audience, people who had come to hear about emergency sanctuary repair wore toy butterfly antennae that bobbed up and down as the mayor spoke.

Read full post at Los Angeles Times

2 responses to “Anger flutters over ‘Butterfly Town USA’

  1. to an aussie this is funny!
    sad fact is if they were most kinds of gum tree they are NOT going to grow bushy again like evergreens and fruit trees do. oops.
    some species like melaleuca will recover and so does bottlebush(callistemon) red/ yellow gum or peppermint or lemon gums, nope.
    Grape vines are a really favoured place in Aus that we find them, their caterpillars ruin the leaves. and make it hard for the vines to shade fruit later on. never seen them on eucys.

    • That town shouldn’t even have eucalyptus – they are not indigenous, and therefore cannot be as good for North American butterflies as native species.

      Maybe the town will reconsider which trees are being used, now that they lost all that euc foliage

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