COVID-19 Can’t Stop California’s Monarch Butterfly Conservation Efforts

Monarchs overwintering in clusters on tree in fog

Responding to a drastic decline in the population of western monarchs, California’s resource conservation districts work with land managers and communities to protect and enhance habitat for monarchs.

SACRAMENTO, CA, May 12, 2020 – The California Association of Resource Conservation Districts (CARCD) announced the recent award of grants to 11 resource conservation districts (RCDs) located throughout California to fund monarch conservation projects.

The western monarch butterfly population has declined over 99% in the past 20 years. Researchers have determined that the most important strategies to bolster the western monarch population include protecting and restoring overwintering sites, providing nectar resources along the migratory flyway, and increasing the availability of early-season native milkweed. They have determined that the next several years will be a critical time to bring back the butterflies from a path to extinction. In 2019, the Wildlife Conservation Board awarded CARCD a block grant in order to provide sub-grants to RCDs through a competitive process. RCDs will use the grants to enhance up to eleven monarch overwintering sites, develop nine habitat restoration projects, and conduct outreach and education to continue expanding conservation efforts.

“RCDs already work directly with state, federal, and local agencies, landowners, communities, and other stakeholders, so they are perfectly situated to create monarch habitat throughout the butterfly’s range in California,” said Karen Buhr, executive director of CARCD. “Even though COVID-19 has kept staff sheltering in place and away from the field, RCDs are continuing to work during these challenging times to conserve the iconic monarch for future generations.”

The RCD recipients of the grant are the Alameda County RCD, the Coastal San Luis RCD, the Gold Ridge RCD, the Grasslands RCD, the RCD of Greater San Diego County, the Mariposa County RCD, the Riverside-Corona RCD, the RCD of Santa Cruz County, the Solano County RCD, the Yolo County RCD, and the Ventura County RCD.

“CARCD is collaborating with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, Monarch Joint Venture, Environmental Defense Fund, and other partners to strengthen the impact of the RCDs’ programs”, said Dr. Hillary Sardiñas, CARCD’s monarch specialist, who was hired with funding from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to build RCD capacity around monarch-specific projects. “Together, CARCD, the RCD network, and our partners are helping land managers adopt conservation practices that will protect and enhance monarch habitat on public and working lands.”


The California Association of Resource Conservation Districts is a 501(c)(3), non-profit, membership-based organization dedicated to serving as a strong advocate, technical resource, and partner to the state’s 95 Resource Conservation Districts. RCDs make conservation happen on the ground by partnering with local communities on a voluntary basis to care for California’s land, water, soil, and other natural resources.