HABITAT MANAGEMENT AND RESTORATION AT WESTERN MONARCH OVERWINTERING SITES IN CALIFORNIA STATE PARKS
|Heather R White; California State Parks; email@example.com; Emma Pelton
California State Parks plays a critically important role in supporting western monarchs. The agency protects and manages around thirty overwintering sites along the coast of California, providing crucial habitat to the species. As western monarch populations have experienced significant declines, their habitats have been impacted by development and other disturbances that leave them vulnerable to senescence and severe wildfire. Given the importance of State Parks to the species, we partnered with Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation to obtain Monarch Butterfly and Pollinator Rescue Program funds to enhance monarch habitat. Through this project, we have conducted habitat assessments and developed management and restoration plans. We are currently restoring and enhancing habitat at four overwintering sites, with additional sites planned for 2023. Restoration actions include tree planting, trimming, and removal; nectar resource planting; and allowing for natural recruitment of key tree species. Several challenges have been identified, including roosting tree species choice, coordination with landscape-scale wildfire resilience work, and long-term maintenance. Management and restoration methods will be evaluated and adapted over time in consultation with species experts and researchers. This project ensures that State Parks-protected land will continue to provide high quality habitat for overwintering western monarchs into the future.