Rochester Earns Monarch Champion Status After Years of Effort
(National Wildlife Federation, Feb 15, 2023)
Rochester, MI – The National Wildlife Federation has named Rochester, Michigan, a Monarch Champion City for its commitment to native habitat restoration, community education and encouraging citizen engagement to support the needs of the imperiled monarch butterfly. Rochester is one of only four cities in the United States that were given this designation for 2022 after fulfilling 25 actions and projects for the Mayors Monarch Pledge.
“On behalf of the National Wildlife Federation, we are excited to welcome Mayor Stuart Bikson and the City of Rochester into a select group of cities that have earned the title of Monarch Champion,” said Emily Preziotti, community wildlife manager at the National Wildlife Federation. “Through their numerous actions in the Mayors’ Monarch Pledge program, Rochester has demonstrated a strong commitment to monarch and pollinator conservation. We commend their efforts and this significant achievement and look forward to continued partnering with the City in the program and beyond.”
Essential community involvement
The Monarch Champion designation for Rochester was several years in the making. Since 2017, each Rochester mayor has signed the Mayor’s Monarch Pledge.
“I believe the sustainability of our environment is crucial to all of us,” current Mayor Bikson shared in June 2022, “My signing the Mayors’ Monarch Pledge is a small step towards protecting the environment. As a community leader, I want to demonstrate that Rochester takes our environment very seriously and that working together, we can all make a difference.”
The award was earned through the leadership of the Rochester Pollinators a committee of the Rochester City Beautiful Commission (CBC) with the support of Mayor Stuart Bikson and the Rochester City Council. However, becoming an NWF Monarch Champion City would not have been possible without many volunteers’ hard work and dedication and essential partnerships with the Rochester Department of Public Works, the Parks and Recreation Department, Dinosaur Hill Nature Preserve, Clinton River Watershed, Wild One’s North-Oakland Chapter and the Stoney Creek Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.
A community that cares helped implement the 25 actions!
With the Rochester Pollinators board committee and their many volunteers, some of the actions completed were:
· five public pollinator gardens with native plants
· educational signage has been completed
· The Children’s Center butterfly garden
· two pollinator-themed public art installations were installed
· a free native seed library was created at Dinosaur Hill Nature Preserve
· thousands of milkweed plants have been given away to citizens
· presentations at garden clubs, schools, libraries
· winter sowing & seed stratification workshops
Each spring and fall, the Rochester Pollinators hold a native plant sale at the Downtown Rochester Farmers Market. Thousands of plants have been sold and the demand for them has increased each year.
The formation of Rochester Pollinators
Rochester citizen and business owner, Marilyn Trent, founded the Rochester Pollinators committee in 2019 because of her alarm at the decline of the Monarch butterfly.
According to the National Wildlife Federation, by 2014 the eastern population of the monarch butterfly declined by 90%. In July 2022, the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) declared the monarch endangered under their “Red List of Threatened Species,” citing habitat destruction and climate change as the primary causes of the species’ decline.
Since the committee was founded, over 120 individuals have signed up to volunteer and many do so regularly. The group has over 1,000 subscribers to their bimonthly newsletter.
Trent shared, “The interest and engagement are beyond what I ever would have imagined! It has become my second job and I enjoy every minute of it. Knowing that I am spreading a message of hope that each one of us can do something in our own yards or balconies to help the environment and save our native butterflies, bees and birds, has brought so much joy to myself and others.”
The City of Rochester is committed to supporting the monarch butterfly and other beneficial insects by encouraging citizens to engage in native plantings and working to remove invasive plants on its public lands as an integral part of sustainability and conservation.
For more information about the work of Rochester Pollinators, please visit www.rochesterpollinators.org or see Rochester Pollinators on Facebook or Instagram.
For more information on the National Wildlife Federation’s Mayors Monarch Pledge, please visit https://www.nwf.org/