Protecting Monarch butterflies from the winter storms

Checking in with the Pismo Beach Butterfly Grove

Protecting Monarch butterflies from the winter storms

PISMO BEACH, Calif. - When it comes to Monarch butterfly migration, this location is a special gem on the Central Coast 

"This is the largest over-wintering habitat in the United States, so it's an important site," said Docent, Betty Sleeth.  

But the Pismo Beach Butterfly Grove is currently going through some tough times. Last year's winter storms wreaked havoc on the park.  

"So this year we were worried about whether or not we'd have butterflies at all because we now have a big hole in the canopy of the grove and that's one of the things that makes this a perfect over-wintering site is the canopy of the trees," Sleeth explained. 

The butterflies did come however - just not as many as the park had hoped. Only 14,000 have made their way to Pismo Beach.

"We counted at the end of Thanksgiving, end of November [and] 14,000 is way down in numbers. We had 20,000 the year before, 30,000 the year before that and we're looking at 200,000 in the 1990's," said Sleeth.

Now with more storms on the way, the park is working on protecting the future of the majestic Monarch.

"So right now we have a committee from state parks, arborists and experts that are looking into the types of trees that we need to put in to replace the trees that we lost and to maintain the health overtime of this habitat," Sleeth said. 

The park plans on monitoring what the butterflies do during the storms as well. 

"We are watching the monarchs to see where they're gonna go during the storm and what kind of protection in terms of tree planting we need to think about, location in the grove to provide protection. So we'll watch what happens and see where they are," Sleeth explained. 

For information on how you can check out the butterflies, click here

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