SEPTEMBER 26, 2016


It’s safe to say almost everyone loves monarch butterflies. So, now they are going to get their own safe space on the Island. City leaders have agreed to create a habitat for monarch butterflies so they have a protected place to stop during their 3,000-mile journey. Millions of monarch butterflies make their way to central Mexico for the winter, traveling from the Rockies. At a recent City Council meeting, Island officials agreed to create a lush and vibrant monarch butterfly habitat — a goal that the South Padre Island City Council had in mind.
The proposed site of the habitat is the South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center. The council approved signing the National Wildlife Federation Mayor’s Monarch Pledge.
The National Wildlife Federation is a voice for wildlife, dedicated to protecting wildlife and habitat and inspiring future generations of conservationists. “I’m looking forward to the projects that we will do and to help increase awareness at the homeowner and business level about monarch butterflies,” SPI Councilwoman Theresa Metty said. The Mayor’s Monarch Pledge consists of 25 possible action items, of which the mayor and local government chief executives, who have taken the pledge, must commit to at least three within one year. With the absence of Mayor Barry Patel from Wednesday’s meeting, the signing of the pledge will be held at a later date.
One pledge item that was discussed during the meeting was the possible hosting of a Monarch Festival in 2017. Communities and nature centers from around the Rio Grande Valley would be invited to participate in an effort to show solidarity for the conservation of the monarch butterfly. Along with the signing of the National Wildlife Federation Mayor’s Monarch Pledge, the City Council approved a Beach-Dune permit for the construction of a gazebo for an Eagle Scout project in the Butterfly Garden.
The construction of the gazebo will launch the restoration of the city’s Butterfly Garden, located at 4350 Gulf Boulevard. “I have a home here and I have a business here and I’m going to look for what I can do to plant some things that will attract the monarch,” Metty said. “It’s not that people don’t care, it’s just that they don’t know.” There are two butterfly gardens on the Island. One is off Gulf Boulevard and the other is located at the nature center.
“We all know that the monarch is one of the most iconic, symbolic species in nature,” said Javier Gonzalez, SPI Birding and Nature Center naturalist. “It’s often used as an example in learning in our schools, so it’s important to keep conserving the species, more now than ever, since in recent years they have been declining in numbers.”
According to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, the monarch population has been on the decline because of extreme weather conditions in over-wintering and breeding grounds and the decline in milkweed and nectar-producing plant availability in the Midwestern monarch breeding grounds. “I feel that by signing the Monarch Pledge, the city of South Padre Island will be doing something very important,” Gonzalez said.

By RAUL GARCIA Staff Writer