Monarchs Visit NRPA Waystation

October 1, 2016, Department, by Richard J. Dolesh

A monarch butterfly draws nectar from a zinnia in NRPA's Monarch Waystation.In December 2014, Eagle Scout candidate Jacob Schaffner and volunteers from his Boy Scout troop began preparing planting beds for a Monarch Waystation at NRPA headquarters in Ashburn, Virginia. The nectar-bearing plants and milkweeds planted in the waystation have grown and flourished since then, and new beds planted by NRPA staff volunteers were added in the spring of 2016. NRPA’s Monarch Waystation is one of more than 14,000 waystations throughout the United States.

Monarch Waystations are pollinator-friendly wildflower gardens that are specially planted with a variety of wildflowers and milkweeds, plants that are essential to the monarchs’ life cycle as they migrate through multiple generations nearly 3,000 miles from Southern Mexico and back again where they overwinter until the following spring. 

As most NRPA members know, monarch butterflies are in a desperate fight for survival. Once common, if not abundant throughout North America, monarchs have declined more than 90 percent in the past 20 years. 

This monarch butterfly seen drawing nectar from a zinnia was photographed by Jaclyn Snyder, age 15, who is the daughter of Karen Snyder, NRPA’s playground safety manager. Snyder stopped by headquarters with her daughter during the Labor Day weekend to hike to a nearby reservoir and visit the waystation to look for monarchs. Jaclyn caught this long-distance visitor at exactly the right moment.

NRPA’s Parks for Monarchs campaign now has more than 500 park and recreation agencies participating in monarch conservation activities creating habitat, conducting educational programs and engaging volunteers in citizen science and monitoring. 

NRPA is pleased to announce an exciting new resource for monarch conservation in parks. NRPA and Monarch Joint Venture (MJV), the national consortium of conservation organizations working to restore the monarch, have collaborated on a new publication, Parks for Monarchs: A Resource Guide for Monarch Conservation. This new guide, made possible by a generous grant from Phillips 66, provides information and resources on monarch biology, how to create and restore pollinator habitat, how to engage citizen volunteers in monarch conservation and how to make your parks havens for monarchs and other pollinators.

Sign on to the Parks for Monarchs campaign when you download the guide, and join the movement of parks fighting to save the monarch!! 

Richard J. Dolesh, NRPA’s Vice President of Conservation and Parks