Monarchs Make Their Home in Marin Again
by Ole Schell (Founder of the Bolinas Monarch Sanctuary), Audrey Fusco (SPAWN Nursery Manager and Restoration Ecologist), and Mia Monroe (Xerces Society Volunteer)
7:30 p.m. – Online Zoom Presentation
Monarchs breed and overwinter in Marin, regaining population support thanks to habitat enhancement and re-establishment. Ole and Audrey will examine several significant efforts to offer breeding options in our gardens, public spaces and overwintering support. They will highlight several recent efforts underway in Marin to provide healthy options for monarch butterflies based on the value and significance of native plants. Mia Monroe will provide a survey of population trends and an update.
Award-winning filmmaker, and farmer Ole Schell grew up in Bolinas on his father’s Niman/Schell Ranch, where the annual arrival of thousands of Western Monarch butterflies was a dependable autumn phenomenon. The alarming decline in this butterfly population has moved Schell to establish the West Marin Monarch Sanctuary on his family land in Bolinas. With extensive research, partnership with specialists, and a creative vision, Schell has planted hundreds of native plants and developed a program to support the butterflies and inform and inspire the public.
Audrey Fusco created a school habitat garden program in conjunction with Charlotte Torgovitsky of Home Ground Habitat Nursery. The program, “Bringing Nature to School”, launched in spring 2020. This program supports the creation of native habitat gardens in schoolyards; the objectives are to provide students with opportunities for hands-on learning in nature and to improve habitat for wildlife. Six new monarch waystations have been created at schools in Marin County as a result of this program. SPAWN also works with local elementary school students to propagate native milkweed and nectar plants at their schools.
Mía Monroe is a Xerces volunteer conducting western monarch overwintering counts for a quarter of a century! She is a National Park ranger in Marin and is part of the OneTam collaborative.