Monday, August 08, 2016 01:36 PM
CHICAGO — State Sen. Melinda Bush brought together community activists and experts at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum in Chicago today to talk about a state program to save the monarch butterfly population in Illinois.
“The monarch is the official insect in Illinois, but it is much more than that,” said Bush, D-Grayslake. “It’s also a crucial part of our ecosystem. As a pollinator, the monarch helps plants to grow from Canada to Mexico. Our food comes from pollinator service, therefore saving monarchs is in our best interest.”
Members of Federación de Clubes Michoacanos en Illinois, a group that represents natives of Mexico’s state of Michoacán, where monarchs spend the winter, joined Bush in support of her legislation. Their support underscores the fact that Bush’s effort to save Monarchs is a truly international effort.
The monarch butterfly population has declined 90 percent in Illinois during the past 20 years. Doug Taron, PhD, the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum’s chief curator, attended the press conference and said: “The Monarch’s migration is one of nature’s biggest wonders. We applaud this commitment to help our state’s official insect. We look forward to seeing more Monarch butterflies throughout the state, adding their important diversity to our ecosystem.”
Bush’s legislation would create the first specialty license plate under the state’s new, decal-based universal license plate program. Fees from the specialty plate would go toward a highway program that would plant milkweed along the median strips of Illinois highways, which the monarch uses to lay its eggs. The median strips provide otherwise unused land that is easy for the butterflies to reach but hard for humans to disturb.
“Monarchs are a symbol that our ecosystem doesn’t stop at state borders, and when we act to preserve the environment, we have to do so in partnership with people of different backgrounds, expertise and talents,” Bush said. “Now that the governor signed this legislation into law, I encourage the residents of Illinois to sign up for the program and support our efforts to preserve this natural wonder.”
House Bill 6182 was signed and became law on Friday, August 5.
PHOTO: Members of Federación de Clubes Michoacanos en Illinois with Senator Bush and Doug Taron, PhD, Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum’s chief curator
Additional information: IMAX documentary, “The Flight of the Butterflies,” by SK Films here.
About the monarch butterfly’s migration: story from Door County Living here.