Say No to the Mow: Keep Monarch Butterflies at Emerald Gardens

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As tenants of Emerald Gardens, we're fortunate to be surrounded by natural beauty absent in other parts of the city. Beyond the sweeping wooded hillsides, there is a natural resource right on Emerald Gardens property - a field full of the plant known as milkweed, essential for monarch butterfly survival.

The monarch butterfly is an iconic North American species whose lifecycle includes a "super" late-summer generation which migrates from all over the country - including Western Pennsylvania -  to Mexico to overwinter. The Eastern U.S. monarch butterfly population (which Pennsylvania is part of) has seen a decline upwards of 90% in the past 20 years. The continued survival of this incredible species depends on so many factors along the way, especially conservation of milkweed, the only plant species monarch butterfly caterpillars can consume to grow and mature into magnificent butterflies.

In the currently undeveloped field at the rear of Emerald Gardens property, approximately 100 milkweed plants grow and thrive naturally - until they are mown down. Despite the fact that this unique, precious and pre-existing natural resource has been pointed out to property management, mowing practices which are too indiscriminate and frequent for the monarch butterfly lifecycle to fulfill itself continue. Every time this field is mown from June through October, countless monarch butterfly eggs, caterpillars and chrysalises are killed, contributing to continued overall population decline. 

During the summer of 2017, I collected about 50 monarch butterfly eggs and caterpillars in the field at Emerald Gardens in between mowing, and relocated them to other milkweed plants off property, scattered throughout Allegheny County, to give them a chance at survival. This is not a viable long term solution. Without the support of the Emerald Gardens community,  mowing and milkweed habitat destruction will occur and kill many more monarch butterflies this summer. 

Recent news reports are grim; the overwintering population in Mexico has declined again, and a U.S. Geological Survey study cites a risk of Eastern monarch butterfly migration collapse within the next 20 years. While monarchs face many threats, without their only larval food source the milkweed plant, survival is impossible. The need to conserve milkweed is urgent. 

Please tell Christopher Stevens and Tryko Properties Management that you want to save monarch butterflies by preserving the unique milkweed ecology present at Emerald Gardens. Let's join communities across the country who are already actively promoting milkweed, monarch butterfly and pollinator protection.  We can work together - as a concerned community of tenants, property management and landscape professionals - to minimize habitat disturbance and destruction, by limiting mowing to before and after the monarch butterfly breeding season, and by protecting the densest milkweed patches in their entirety. This habitat can coexist with us, our dogs, our dog park and other amenities, with minimal effort on our part. Even if future development occurs here, with creative planning and compromise, patches of milkweed plants can be saved.

Summer is here and the butterflies are already arriving; please sign this petition now to save milkweed and monarchs at Emerald Gardens, so we can truly welcome them and help the population recover. Thank you.