Big Rapids is becoming a monarch friendly city. Mayor Mark Warba signed the National Wildlife Federation's Mayor's Monarch Pledge during Monday's City Commission meeting meaning Big Rapids is pledging to enhance habitat, alter management practices of park areas, and increase public awareness of monarch butterflies. Ferris State University Card Wildlife Education Center Director Carrie Weis Stermer, who is spear heading their effort to save the insects, says people don't often think of what monarch butterflies do for us.
“As Mayor Warba mentioned, it is serious business. It's like the canary in the coalmine.”
Mayor Mark Warba notes that over 90 percent of the monarch population has died off which indicates problems with the nation's environment.
“Twenty years ago, more than one billion eastern monarch butterflies migrated to Mexico, but in the winter of 2014, only 60 million made the trip,” he says.
Stermer adds that FSU's Save Our Monarch organization is working with the city on the problem.
“We will be planting over 5,000 milkweed plugs in the spring and I have three schools involved, over 250 children, who will be learning about monarchs in the classroom. We're providing them with soil and containers and seeds so that they can grow milkweeds.”
That's because monarch caterpillars only eat milkweed and can't reproduce without it. The National Wildlife Federation says the state of monarchs reflects the health of the American landscape and its pollinators. Monarch declines are symptomatic of environmental problems that also pose risks to food production.