[SoWestLep] Mexico expands monarch butterfly habitat

Mark Walker MWalker at gensym.com
Sun Nov 12 10:13:00 EST 2000

Paul provided some interesting points regarding the amount of space the
Monarchs of California require for their overwintering there.  These are
certainly valid points (and I know from living in Cambria that Highway 1 is
far more detrimental to the overwintering colony there than the
overdevelopment of the relatively small Monterrey Pine forest).  On the
other hand, I certainly don't have a problem with the Mexican government
deciding to protect additional acreage of ANY habitat.  Good for them.

My problem with all of this is the likely propagation of environmentalist
rhetoric - like the implication that the U.S. is now somehow solely
responsible for the health and well being of the migrating colonies (and
that we're doing a lousy job).  I don't know if the report is referring to
Bt corn or to urban sprawl or to some other feared source of butterfly
mortality.  What I do know is that contrary to popular belief - the Monarch
populations of North America are alive and well.  

I suspect that it was in response to environmentalist pressure that the
Mexican government made this decision.  This pressure was only effective
after it secured widespread public support.  To get widespread public
support, environmentalists (to which I consider myself counted) do not
restrict themselves to science or fact.  The question is this:  is it wrong
to propagate bad science and false information to secure goals which are
ecologically high-minded and soundly altruistic?  I say NO.

To suggest an unfound fear of Monarch demise in order to stimulate a
sufficient mounting public pressure that will effect environmentalist goals
-  no matter how high-minded - is just plain wrong.  Lies have a way of
expanding and entangling indiscriminately and without bound - always
resulting in situations which are worse than before.  

Now our Mexican fingerpointing is directed back in our direction.  Sounds
like we should hire us a few expert consultants to help us save the Monarchs
- folks who have proven that they are friends of the butterflies and have
long warned of their doom.  Hmmmmm.  Maybe it's not too late to change my
views - I could use a few extra bucks...

Mark Walker
Oceanside, CA


> -----Original Message-----
> From: Paul Cherubini [mailto:cherubini at mindspring.com]
> Sent: Friday, November 10, 2000 2:28 PM
> To: SoWestLep at egroups.com
> Subject: Re: [SoWestLep] Mexico expands monarch butterfly habitat
> > Mexico expands monarch butterfly habitat
> > On Thursday the government announced it was increasing the 
> size of the
> > protected area to 216 square miles (= 138,240 acres = 
> 56,000 hectares) from
> > 62 square miles (=39,680 acres =16,000 hectares), and expanding
> > the so-called core zone where cutting trees is banned. In 
> buffer zones,
> > regulated tree-cutting is permitted.
> > The new protections will link a string of nature reserves to create
> > a continuous corridor in the butterfly's winter nesting grounds. It
> > will add a 100,000-acre buffer zone around the current monarch
> > reserve, which has been degraded over the past few decades by
> > illegal logging. 
> What's really happening in Mexico is that American monarch scientists
> have arbitrarily designated 216 square miles (=138,240 acres = 
> 56,000 hectares) of forest as essential monarch overwintering 
> habitat. 
> They have no scientific evidence to back this claim up. For example, 
> at any given time during the winter the monarchs occupy a 
> total of less 
> than 50 acres (20 hectares) of forest in Mexico.
> As an analogy consider the Monterey Pine forest in Cambria, California
> which is several hundred acres in size. Only one or two monarch 
> overwintering colonies, each a fraction of one acre in size, 
> are located
> within this vast forest. It would be ridiculous if (hypothetically) 
> Mexican scientists came to Cambria and arbitrarily designated the
> entire pine forest in Cambria as essential monarch habitat.
> Why would it be ridiculous? Because at Pismo State Beach,
> just a short distance away from Cambria , the same number of monarchs 
> can be found overwintering in a comparatively tiny 5 acre 
> isolated clump of
> eucalyptus trees. Also, up at Pacific Grove, California, 
> hundreds of acres
> of Monterey Pine forest were logged off many years ago leaving just
> a few small fragments of forest. Yet in one of these tiny 3 
> acre clumps
> is one of the largest and most stable monarch overwintering colonies
> in northern California.  Therefore in situations where 
> monarch colonies
> are located within immense tracts of forest, only a minuscule portion
> of that forest is essential butterfly habitat - the rest is 
> not habitat and
> could be logged off without harm (from a butterfly conservation
> standpoint).
> Paul Cherubini, Placerville, California
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