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Mayor Johnson attends Monarch Pledge Butterfly Release

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Michelynne Webster | Lehi Free Press

Most everyone can identify with that awe-inspiring moment of seeing a monarch butterfly grace your presence with its delicate flight and beauty. Lehi Mayor, Mark Johnson, showed his support of an effort to restore more monarch butterflies to the area by attending the Mayors’ Monarch Pledge Butterfly Release in Vineyard hosted by the Hutchings Museum on Oct. 16. Because of land development in Utah County, large quantities of the milkweed plant have been removed, which is devastating to the monarch species.

“We are having this event to draw attention to the monarch butterfly, because their population has been reduced significantly because the milk weed plant has been reduced,”said Johnson.

Parker Bautner of Draper, whose family business is Riverbottom butterflies, provided insight for the decline of Monarchs. “The… chemicals… the sprays are killing them by the millions,” said Bautner.

Mayor Johnson plans to introduce a proclamation to the City Council asking them to agree to do three or four items that are necessary to help grow the population of the Monarch butterflies again. 

“This is exciting… it’s a butterfly that was common in the 50s, 60s and even the 70s; but we don’t see them much anymore. So, we should be able to help bring them back,” said Johnson. 

Vineyard’s Mayor Julie Fullmer also attended the event to support the goal to “have pollinated gardens all throughout Vineyard,” said Fullmer, who is also working on other community eco-projects involving youth.

Daniela Larsen, Executive Director of the Hutchings Museum and Institute, shared great ideas on how others can help.

“Five square feet of native pollinating wildflowers in yards, as opposed to bushes or things that don’t help pollinate–that would make miles of pollinating habitat,” said Larsen.

Larsen offered other solutions. “We can’t have these huge open fields anymore, but we do have a lot of the little gardens all over they city. Instead of just having gravel, we can scatter wildflower seeds,” said Larsen. 

All ideas have to start at a “caterpillar stage.” The Mayors’involvement, together with the community, is accomplishing these goals by improving habitats for all wildlife and humans, transforming them for the future generations.

The event was a glorious reminder of how interconnected we all are. Monarchs help keep our flowers pollinated for honeybees,who then help pollinate flowers and produce for us all. 

Jake Holdaway of Vineyard is doing his part to increase the butterfly population. For the last three years his trail project has metamorphosed into fruition.

“We’re doing an interconnected bike path from Provo boat harbor to Saratoga Springs,” said Holdaway. 

This project, now funded by the state legislature and Holdaway, is providing access to fifty acres of his and his family’s ownland. His project is also helping the butterflies.

Holdaway shared that his hooved animals eat phragmites. His cows have assisted by clearing out phragmites, allowing the sun to activate the dormant milk weed–the only plant Monarch butterflies can lay their eggs upon. 

You can certainly help butterflies with your own garden, but if you’re looking for additional ways to get involved, consider contacting Amber Rasmussen who runs the Gardening Group of Vineyard on Facebook.

Rasmussen hopes to encourage others in the community to get involved. She and the six hundred other members do seed exchanges and offer great gardening tips and informationregarding what can help the butterfly population. 

Another great resource is Parker Bautners’ family business–Riverbottombutterflies.com sells butterfly kits for growing your own live butterflies. Bautner has vast knowledge of how to help the butterfly population and can provide firsthand learning with butterfly propagation.

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