Ventura County RCD takes creative approaches to save the monarch butterfly

Eight orange monarchs are gathered on a conifer branch

Ventura County provides a wealth of opportunities for monarch conservation. The region contains both coastal overwintering sites as well as inland locations that are prime areas for breeding and nectar habitat restoration. The Ventura County Resource Conservation District (Ventura RCD) is developing a multi-faceted approach to monarch conservation, which includes enhancing monarch overwintering sites, integrating pollinator habitat into their fire-wise demonstration garden, and creating a regional technical advisory working group to address current and future conservation and funding efforts.

Many of the overwintering sites in Ventura County have been prioritized as key monarch conservation opportunities and are included in the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation’s (Xerces Society’s) top 50 list of priority overwintering sites. Ventura RCD secured $75,000 in funding from the California Association of RCD’s Wildlife Conservation Board monarch block grant plus an additional $25,000 from Partners for Fish and Wildlife to assess existing conditions and develop management plans for three high-priority overwintering sites.

Ventura RCD will also incorporate monarch habitat into their existing restoration efforts, including post-fire recovery plantings. They plan to partner with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection to develop a firewise plant list that will include species that support monarch breeding as well as nectar-producing species that provide floral resources throughout the year. Once they secure funding, Ventura RCD plans to include pollinator-friendly fire-wise plantings in their demonstration garden.

In order to coordinate efforts with other agencies focused on monarch conservation in the region, Ventura County RCD is chairing a technical advisory working group that will include organizations such as the Xerces Society, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, local agencies, consulting biologists, and other interested stakeholders. “The goal of our working group is to have a locally-led stakeholder panel that’s capable of identifying potential butterfly and pollinator habitat sites,” said Jamie Whiteford, the District Scientist with Ventura County RCD. “Our objective is to create a knowledge base of projects and a network of partnerships needed to implement enhancements.”

Andy Spryka, the resource conservation specialist with the RCD, elaborated, “Through the work group we will be able to coordinate public stakeholder meetings, house and share locally significant information, and magnify our efforts to conserve monarchs.” They hope that the Ventura County monarch work group can serve as a model for other RCDs to collaboratively address local issues impacting monarch conservation.

To learn more about the RCD’s monarch work, contact Andy Spyrka at To learn more about the RCD, visit their website or read one of CARCD’s previous posts about their work on helping homeowners make Ventura County more wildfire resilient.