Montclair has been named an official Monarch City by Monarch U.S.A., becoming only the second town so named in New Jersey and fifth in the mid-Atlantic region. 

“This recognition will help us to increase protection of the monarch in town as well as other important pollinators,” Jose German-Gomez, Northeast Earth Coalition founder, said. “More importantly, it will help us to create more habitats for pollinators.” 

Monarch U.S.A., a Washington-based nonprofit, works to help the monarch butterfly population recover through coordinating organizations across the country, according to the group’s website. Monmouth Beach was the first Monarch City in the state. 

In a Northeast Earth Coalition press release, Monarch City U.S.A. Founder Russ Stubbles said the organization was “thrilled to have Montclair with us.”

“Your people are doing all kinds of good things for the environment and the communities you are working with,” Stubbles said. 

On July 21, the International Union for Conservation of Nature added monarchs to its endangered species list, saying they are threatened by habitat destruction and climate change. 

The monarch population “has fallen dramatically over the last 10 years because of pesticides, herbicides, urban development and agricultural expansion,” German-Gomez said in a Northeast Earth Coalition press release. “We can take local action by supporting the planting of milkweed and nectar plants.”

But local action is not new to Montclair, its environmental activists and monarch supporters. 

The recognition is the culmination of years of work in the community, German-Gomez said. Community members including author Trina Paulus, public school teachers and supporters of the Montclair Backyard Habitat Project have educated the community about the importance of wildlife habitat and pollinators, he said. 

Paulus, Montclair’s 90-year-old “Butterfly Lady” and author of “Hope for the Flowers,” raised more than 500 monarchs last year. In all, she’s raised more than 3,000. 

Paulus finds the monarch eggs by searching through milkweed plants, flipping over the leaves and scanning for the eggs, each about “the size of a grain of sand,” she said in August 2021 at the fourth annual Monarch Butterfly Event, hosted by the Northeast Earth Coalition.

“We’re all part of nature,” she said to the crowd. “If we just depend on technology, we’re not going to save ourselves. We have to go back to the rules of the Earth, sharing everything and not climbing over others.” 

The Backyard Habitat Project is part of the National Wildlife Federation’s Garden for Wildlife program, encouraging homeowners to manage their properties with the goal of maintaining healthy and diverse animal habitats and ecosystems, according to a Montclair Local column by German-Gomez.

“Our town’s environment will be improved by joining other cities in the Monarch City U.S.A. program,” he said. “The internationally recognized signs we put up in public spaces will symbolize our belief in a better environmental future for all.”

At the Aug. 16 Township Council meeting, Third Ward Councilwoman Lori Price Abrams and Councilman Peter Yacobellis plan to introduce a proclamation declaring Montclair a Monarch City U.S.A., according to a Northeast Earth Coalition press release. 

“From requiring mostly native, pollinator-friendly vegetation on public land to banning gas leaf blowers most of the year, we have been taking steps to restore our local ecosystem,” Yacobellis said in the release.

The Northeast Earth Coalition will celebrate the designation Aug. 20 during the coalition’s annual butterfly event at Crane Park. All are invited to attend the event, which begins at 3 p.m.