Migrate to Mexico, see the Monarchs

I believe in the Oneness of Mankind and all living things and the interdependence of each and all. Richard St. Barbe Baker

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Would you like to migrate to Mexico, to see the Monarch Butterflies ?

The Monarch Butterfly comes up to Canada in the spring, but the Monarchs are currently, right now down south.  The Monarch Butterfly  is listed under the Endangered Species Act in the USA, and a species of concern in Canada, find out what actions you, personally can take, to protect and conserve the habitat for this butterfly.

Monarch Butterfly (Danaus plexippus)
Monarch Butterfly (Danaus plexippus) photo credit William Warby

This January, Saskatoon is pulling out of the weather system known as a Mackenzie Clipper. David Phillips, the senior climatologist at Environment Canada, describes a Mackenzie clipper as a weather system similar to the Alberta clipper, however with the origins around the MacKenzie River. An Alberta clipper (or Canadian Clipper) is a fast moving low pressure area across the central provinces of Canada, through to the Great Lakes. Residents notice a sudden and drastic temperature drop, and increased winds such as those experienced on Wednesday January 11, 2017 when the temperature dove to -34.1 Celsius, with a wind chill of -47 Celsius. Snowfall and precipitation amounts are very small. Where an Alberta clipper originates when the warmer air of the Pacific Ocean meets with the Rocky Mountains.

Warmer weather has arrived at the end of January, with temperatures hovering around the freezing mark however the cold snap, just one week ago, makes this contest to Mexico, a treat. So now, before Sunday, January 29, please take the time to enter a contest to win a trip for two to the magical Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve in Mexico from February 16 to 25, 2017! Wouldn’t you love to see millions of butterflies in flight at the El Rosario and Sierra Chincua sanctuaries. These sanctuaries are part of the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Read further, and find out what you can do for the butterfly habitat, can there be any more butterfly gardens, or sanctuaries in Canada?

Monarch Butterfly (Danaus plexippus)
Monarch Butterfly (Danaus plexippus) Photo credit Paul Stein

So what can you do to help the endangered species, the Monarch Butterfly (Danaus plexippus) ?

  • Get informed about the projects at the David Suzuki organisation to save the butterflies.
  • Sign up for the David Suzuki newsletter
  •  Sign the Monarch Manifesto.
  • Grow milkweed and other pollinator-friendly plants in your City of Saskatoon yard. Ask for space in the community garden, and urban parks for milkweed and pollinator-friendly plants.
  • You can, today, reach out to a green group such as the Saskatoon Native Plant Society, Saskatoon Horticulture Society, Saskatoon Nature Society, Meewasin Valley Authority, Naturalized Areas Supervisor, City of Saskatoon to learn if there can be a possibility towards butterfly gardens, with milkweed and pollinator-friendly plants, installed in Saskatoon.
  • Contact Nature Conservancy of Canada NCC for Monarch butterfly programs this year, and for more information on Conservation Volunteer programs.
  • When the migration starts in Saskatchewan this summer in the month of August
    report Monarch sightings by calling Nature Saskatchewan‘s toll-free line at 1-800-667-HOOT (4668).
  • When you go out to buy your milkweed seeds, ask City of Saskatoon local garden centres to stock those plants. Nature Saskatchewan says that five species of milkweed thrive in Saskatchewan.
    • low milkweed, (or “oval-leafed milkweed”) Asclepias ovalifolia thrives in moist mixed grasslands and parklands
    • showy milkweed, Asclepias Speciosa grows in mixed grasslands,
    • silky milkweed, (or “common milkweed,” tropical milkweed or Golden Butterflyweed) Asclepias curassavica a provincially rare plant that may be spotted in mixed grasslands
    • whorled milkweed, (eastern whorled milkweed, horsetail milkweed) Asclepias verticillata rare plant In Saskatchewan might be found  in mixed grasslands
    • green milkweed, (Green antelopehorn) Asclepias viridis
      Asclepias viridis Walter,Asclepias viridiflora a  mixed grassland areas variety.

    Walter V. Krivda states that milkweed favours the typical black soil of the prairies, but has been seen in gravel and clay railway embankments.  If you are going to start your seeds indoors, select a date six to eight weeks before your last frost date, and one does not usually start indoor germination before the end of February.   For example vegetable gardens are typically seeded in Saskatchewan, around the last week of May, which is usually safe and the  risk of frost has passed.  If you did not start your seeds last fall in your Monarch butterfly Milkweed garden, then talk to your nursery now, for best hints on how to grow your Milkweed plants successfully.

  • Contact the CBC morning edition with places where you can buy milkweed, such as Early’s Seed and Feed .
  • Look for butterflies at the Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area, and at the afforestation area formerly called George Genereux Urban Regional Park.  According to Weyburn This Week, “The yearly migration of these butterflies will take place in late August. It takes three to four generations of butterflies to complete the migration they undertake, and the final generation starts in Saskatchewan. …The last generation lives for up to nine months, starts far north in Saskatchewan, migrates south, overwinters in Mexico or California, and finally lays eggs in the spring.” Walter V. Krivda has found butterflies into September, and occasionally October, the Monarch, Danaus Plexippus (L.) leaves Canada when heavy frosts arrive.
  • There are butterfly look-alikes such as the Viceroy, Limenitis archippus. The Viceroy travels further north than the Monarch, but seeks the look-alike pattern of the Monarch for protection from predators. Viceroys are smaller than Monarchs; Viceroy: 2 1/2 – 3 3/8 inches (6.3 – 8.6 cm) Monarch: 3 3/8 – 4 7/8 inches (8.6 – 12.4 cm). Viceroy butterflies do not migrate, but rather they over-winter, so they emerge around the same time that willow and poplar leaves burst from their bud, the Viceroy caterpillar actually feeds on the salicylic acid from the Willow and Poplar. Whereas the Monarch caterpillar feeds on the milkweed. The markings of the Viceroy and Monarch Butterfly, though similar, difference can be found on their hind wings to distinguish one from the other with the human eye or camera.

    Viceroy Butterfly Limenitis archippus Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
    Viceroy Butterfly (Limenitis archippus) Courtesy Benny Mazur
  • Send in your butterfly photos this spring and summer to the SWOLRA or the Richard St. Barbe Baker facebook pages!  Facebook: StBarbeBaker  Facebook group page : Users of the St Barbe Baker Afforestation Area  Facebook: South West OLRA They ~ the butterflies ~ are declining in numbers, but have you seen butterflies? Do you have a butterfly story?

I believe in the Oneness of Mankind and all living things and the interdependence of each and all.  Richard St. Barbe Baker

BIBLIOGRAPHY:
CBC listeners send photos of monarch butterflies and milkweed. Milkweed is the only plant the Monarch Butterflies will lay egg on. CBC News.

Charleton, Jonathan. Dead of winter brings rare and brutal weather system to Saskatoon Saskatoon Star Phoenix. January 11, 2017.

Davis, Don. Jorney North: Monarch Butterfly. How Far North Do Monarchs Migrate? Monarch Breeding Range in North America.

It is Prime Monarch Butterfly time in Saskatchewan Nature Saskatchewan seeks help in research and conservation during Royal Migration. CBC news. August 2, 2016.

Krivda, Walter V. Monarch Butterfly (Danaidae) in Northern Saskatchewan. Prince Albert National Park, Saskatchewan, Canada.

Monarchs and Milkweed Nature Conservancy of Canada.

Monarch or Viceroy? Learner.org.

Monarch butterflies start their migration in Saskatchewan Weyburn this week.

Places to find milkweed in Sask. to conserve Monarch Butterflies Monarch butterflies need milkweed to thrive. CBC news. April 2, 2015.

Prest, Ashley and Kevin Rollason. Not seeing is believing Blizzard-like conditions, brutal winds, extreme cold wreak havoc on province. Winnipeg Free Press. January 12, 2017.

Wikipedia. Alberta Clipper Viceroy (Butterfly> Monarch Butterfly

For more information:
Monarch Butterfly Milkweed Garden 101

Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area is located in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada north of Cedar Villa Road, within city limits, in the furthest south west area of the city.
Wikimapia Map: type in Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area
Google Maps South West Off Leash area location pin at parking lot
Web page: https://stbarbebaker.wordpress.com
Where is the Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area? with map
Facebook: StBarbeBaker
Facebook group page : Users of the St Barbe Baker Afforestation Area
Facebook: South West OLRA
Contact the Meewasin Valley Authority in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. The MVA has begun a Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area trust fund. If you wish to support the afforestation area with your donation, write a cheque to the “Meewasin Valley Authority Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area trust fund (MVA RSBBAA trust fund)”. Please and thank you!
Twitter: StBarbeBaker

What happens August 18, 2016 at 1:00 p.m.?

We forget that we owe our existence to the presence of Trees.

What happens August 18, 2016 at 1:00 p.m., indeed?

Wouldn’t you love to walk in this urban regional forest, the Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area, with your grandchildren amid truly magnificent trees, and breathtaking forest scenes? The Stewards of the Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area recently gathered together to promote the environmental health of the St. Barbe Forest with the clean up on July 9, 2016.  This year 8,300 kilograms (18,300 pounds) of trash were removed, including at both clean ups appliances, chesterfields, construction materials with nails, fencing, doors, windows, shingles, and tires were removed. Last year, May 2015, 3,300 kilograms (7275 Pounds) of trash came out of the east side alone!

So now, when you arrive at the afforestation area, you do not have to put your “trash blinders” on.  There are truly delightful 44 year old trees, with an understorey coming in of native plant growth.  There are American and Siberian Elm, Manitoba Maple, Green Ash, Black Balsamic Poplar, Willow, Colorado Blue Spruce, Scotch Pine and Caragana, chosen for their drought resistant capabilities, and for the soil type at the afforestation area.  There is not too much evidence of the Manitoba Maple, and the Green Ash is a very small stand today.  The Scotch Pine and Colorado Blue Spruce have delightfully made groves of small saplings.  The far west side predominates with Poplar, as it was believed that this area would be more prone to flooding.  The east side is mainly  Elm mixed with Spruce.  Caragana, implemented as a wind break and to act as a moisture collector in the winter is seen throughout the east and west sides.  The rows in the afforestation area are fourteen feet apart and weave in and out to give the afforested area a more natural look rather than rows in lines at right angles to each other.  The trees were selected randomly, and set into the soil four to five feet apart.  In every 2-1/2 mile long section, there were fire guards left of 50-60 feet which were not afforested.  Presently, native Trembling Aspen Bluffs are starting to make their home here creating a wonderful complement with the afforested trees.

Two organisers came together in 2016 with different backgrounds, but the outcome or goals for the Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area overlap.  Jeff Hehn is seeking to introduce the city to “green exercise”, a way to get the population more actively involved with the environment.  There is a wish to also engage residents in a more active winter lifestyle, and Jeff proposed a winter active lifestyles plan.  Julia Adamson is seeking to restore the environment, protect the woodlands and West Swale wetlands, and the wildlife habitat corridor.  Both Julia and Jeff, in consultation with neighbourhood community associations of the city, neighbouring residents of the Rural Municipality of Corman Park 344, environmental organisations, recreational groups, city and MVA staff, came up with some goals and ideas which have amalgamated together from a wealth of ideas and concerned people.

First and foremost came the unanimous decision that a forest was not a place to have trash and garbage.  About 70 volunteers arrived one Saturday in July combining several organisations and individuals. Volunteers poured in from across Saskatoon, and from across the continent, from as far away as Utah and Pennsylvania, from coast to coast in Canada, volunteers came from Victoria, British Columbia; Halifax, Nova Scotia; Quebec; Toronto Ontario; and Winnipeg, Manitoba. This response was fantastic to shift the 8,300 kilograms (18,300 pounds) of freezers, full pails of tar, 85 tires, two car engines, roofs and roofs of shingles, children’s games, clothing, shoes, doors and windows.

Though the volunteers were absolutely fantastic, and would gladly help out again, there is no need for garbage to be filling up an urban regional park.  The enormous amounts of money that could be saved by closing off the afforestation to motorized vehicles would be massive by just recovering the clean up costs alone.  So what measures need to be undertaken to keep the trash out of the forest?

The majority of the trash was piled up alongside the wider pathways, those wide enough that a vehicle could drive upon.  So a very quick and easy solution would be to place vehicle access barriers with large rocks, bollards, gates or fencing to restrict access into the afforestation area.  So three representatives for the Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area spoke before the Standing Policy committee on Planning and Development on Monday, July 18th.  It was with glad and happy hearts, that recommendations for three different options for vehicle restrictions  were discussed at this very meeting to block access to the Richard St. Barbe Baker afforestation area.  The committee voted that Plan C should be approved, and now this option will go before City Council on August 18, 2016 at 1:00 p.m. for a vote from council.

Will this day see a step towards preserving and conserving the West Swale wetlands?  Will August 18, 2016 see a vote towards protecting the afforestation area, which had been preserved in perpetuity in 1972?  Will City Council vote to keep trash out of the afforestation area and in the landfill where it belongs?  Will the trash finally be out of the forest following the vote taken on Thursday August 18, 2016?  Without vehicles allowed to trespass, the afforestation area will not be littered with trash, and there will be no need for massive clean ups to be arranged for the Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation area, as it will come into its own as an urban regional park to be enjoyed by responsible citizens of Saskatoon.  Mark your calendars for the outcome of this vote, and the impact it will have on the Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area!

“We forget that we owe our existence to  the presence of Trees.   As far as forest  cover goes, we have never been in such a  vulnerable position as we are today.  The  only answer is to plant more Trees – to  Plant Trees for Our Lives.” ~Richard St. Barbe Baker

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For more information:

Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area is located in Saskatoon, SK, CA north of Cedar Villa Road, within city limits, in the furthest south west area of the city.
Wikimapia Map: type in Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area
Google Maps South West Off Leash area location pin at parking lot
Web page: https://stbarbebaker.wordpress.com
Where is the Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area? with map
Facebook: StBarbeBaker
Facebook group page : Users of the St Barbe Baker Afforestation Area
Facebook: South West OLRA
Contact the MVA The MVA has begun a Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area trust fund. If you wish to support the afforestation area with your donation, write a cheque to the “Meewasin Valley Authority Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area trust fund (MVA RSBBAA trust fund)” .
Twitter: StBarbeBaker