What can you do to save the monarchs?

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VERNON — Locals are invited to gather for an educational talk and to show support around the declining population of monarchs.

Vermont Woods Studios (VWS), a small business that sells locally crafted wood furniture, is sponsoring, "Save the Monarchs" tour with Mexican monarch butterfly habitat expert Jose Luis Alvarez.

"If we can't save the monarch how will we save the rest of our pollinators?" asked Peggy Farabaugh, founder of Vermont Wood Studios. "How will we ensure our future food supply?"

The tour will take place in late August throughout New England, including a kickoff event at the VWS showroom in Vernon on Aug. 25, from 6 to 7 p.m. The purpose of the tour is to raise awareness about the decline in the pollinators population due to habitat destruction in the U.S. and Mexico. Farabaugh notes that all pollinators are facing dangers of shrinking habitat, herbicides, pesticides, climate change and other environmental threats.

"We need bees, beetles, butterflies and other pollinators to ensure our food supply," said Farabaugh.

The timing of the event is appropriate as this month the monarchs emerge from their chrysalises in Vermont, spreading their wings and beginning a 3,000 mile journey to their forested over-wintering grounds in Mexico.

"Their Mexican winter habitat has shrunk from over 20 hectares to only about 2 hectares (mainly to climate change and illegal logging)" Farabaugh said.

To combat the decline of monarchs, in 1997 Alvarez founded a nonprofit called Forests for Monarchs in order to restore the monarch's winter habitat in Michoacan, Mexico, and provide indigenous people wood for cooking, heating and building. On Thursday, he will discuss monarch evolution, migration, discovery of the over-wintering grounds, monarch population changes, deforestation & reforestation, U.S. habitat issues, threats and future predictions. In addition, Alvarez is a silviculturist, growing trees and reforesting environmentally sensitive areas of Mexico for decades.

"He brings his expertise and experience from the front lines, combating dangerous illegal logging groups and freak storms that have destroyed all but a few acres of land for the monarchs, to Vermont and all of New England," states a VWS press release.

Farabaugh visited Alvarez in Michoacan this past year to learn what she could do as a businesswoman and environmentalist to help restore the monarch's habitats. As a result of her visit, Farabaugh invited Alvarez to the U.S. to advocate and educate the public on the topic and to raise awareness of his work in Mexico.

This event is a meet and greet for local nature enthusiasts and gardeners to meet Alvarez and learn more about his work with FFM as well as what they can do to increase milkweed habitat for the monarch in their own backyards and throughout Vermont.

Farabaugh believes people are interested in the monarch butterfly because it has become a symbol of conservation throughout North America, including Canada, the United States and Mexico.

"For 10,000 years, each and every monarch butterfly that's flown south after enjoying the summer in Vermont has headed to over-winter in the oyamel forests of Michoacan, Mexico. That migration, perhaps the most complex of any animal throughout time, will soon disappear unless we work together as neighbors to conserve the butterfly's habitat in both Mexico and the USA," Farabaugh said. "We're delighted to sponsor Senor Alvarez, as he shares his experiences working with the world's top monarch researchers in protecting Mexico's sacred over-wintering grounds in Michoacan."

While awareness of the monarch population decline is evident, Megan Fulton, the Vermont Wood Studios marketing coordinator says VSW hopes to educate others about this issue but also encourage them to take action.

"The goal is to rally people to plant milkweed and nectar flowers and to inspire local officials/road crews to avoid needless mowing which destroys monarch habitat," said Fulton. Details at http://vermontfurnitureblog.com/hell-no-wont-mow/.

Founded in 2005 by Peggy and Ken Farabaugh, VWS is an online retailer of eco-friendly, Vermont made wood furniture that is handcrafted from various workshops and artisans across the state.

The event is free to the public, but donations to Jose Luis' organization, Forests For Monarchs, are suggested.

Refreshments will be available during the event and participants may feel free to bring their own snacks as well.

For those who cannot make it to this event in Vernon, the tour continues in Boston, Burlington, Connecticut and Philadelphia throughout the week and people can find more details about those events at: https://www.facebook.com/VermontWoodsStudios/ or by following VWS on Facebook or Twitter for tour updates. Other updates can be found at http://vermontwoodsstudios.com/monarchs and on the VWS blog: http://vermontfurnitureblog.com/

Contact Maddi Shaw at 802-254-2311, ext. 275.


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