A Plea for the Butterfly Forest and its People

PLANTING MILKWEED  WON'T SAVE THE MONARCH BUTTERFLY MIGRATION
UNLESS WE ALSO INVEST IN THE PEOPLE THAT PROTECT THEM


My recent trip to the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Preserve wasn’t just a trip, it was a pilgrimage.  After decades of planting milkweed, raising butterflies at home, tagging them and teaching about them, I was at last fulfilling the number one wish on my “bucket list”.  I wanted to see the source of all of this beauty. I expected it to be a once in a lifetime trip.  What I didn’t expect was that it would completely change my perspective on what has to be done to save the phenomenon I was witnessing.

The butterflies were unspeakably beautiful, but you cannot visit Cerro Pelón and just see the butterflies, they are surrounded by people who also live and die on the same mountainsides, and they are in just as much need. It isn’t a holy shrine of beautiful insects just to be enjoyed by tourists, it is an ecosystem that very much includes the people that live there.

My mother and I were carried up the mountain on horseback.  We were kind to our porters and tried to express our thanks by tipping well, but the reality of the situation is that the same horses that carry tourists to see the butterflies in the winter, are being used to haul away the trees that are being removed from the same forest every summer.



So what are we to do? I learned on my visit just how complicated this problem really is. Money that is meant to support the people who live near the reserve rarely reaches the people who are the poorest and most in need, and who are the most likely to be driven to try to support their families by cutting down trees.  In response, Butterflies and Their People, AC works to employ the local people all year round, by hiring full time employees to protect the forest rather than destroy it.

It is meaningless to provide income for the local people for protecting the butterflies, only to have that income dry up the rest of the year and drive people back to logging.  Saving the monarch sanctuary means protecting it all year round, and that means supporting their protectors all year round as well.

We want to raise  $20,000 to continue to support, and equip our 6 full-time forest guardians from Cerro Pelón’s surrounding villages going forward. 

This unique approach doesn’t just invest in the forest that protects the butterflies, it also invests in the joy and prosperity of the people that live there.  Without this important focus, I believe that the struggle to save the monarch migration will fail.  Planting milkweed and raising monarchs isn't enough.  

CLICK HERE  TO LEARN MORE ABOUT BUTTERFLIES AND THEIR PEOPLE, AC

Please help me to meet this important goal, and help support the people behind the butterflies.


  • Anonymous 
    • $40 
    • 4 mos
  • Theresa LaFlesh 
    • $50 
    • 4 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $50 
    • 4 mos
  • Barbara Lakin 
    • $50 
    • 4 mos
  • Rona Fried 
    • $200 
    • 4 mos
See all

Organizer and beneficiary

Lisa Johnson 
Organizer
Ann Arbor, MI
Ellen Sharp 
Beneficiary