Help protect Monarchs at Gill Tract Farm!
Gill Tract Farm was named the 5th largest western monarch overwintering site on the California coast. Please read below on ways to get involved!
UC Berkeley is rapidly implementing plans to develop the land directly bordering our monarch overwintering site. This proposed 6-story student housing project would block sunlight and channel wind into the site. Monarchs are incredibly sensitive to even the slightest changes in microclimate, and we worry that without proper biological surveying, the project could severely compromise the health of monarchs at Gill Tract Farm. Currently, UC is using an outdated Environmental Impact Report (EIR) from 2004, stating that monarchs are not overwintering on site.
We urge UC to recognize and support the important ecological role the Gill Tract plays as an overwintering site for the Western Monarch by:
1. Conducting an updated biological survey and committing to incorporate the findings into planning around the Albany Graduate Student Housing Project and future land stewardship, ideally informing a new Environmental Impact Report.
2. Consulting with farmers, The Xerces Society, and local Monarch experts to create an Overwintering Site Management Plan.
Western monarch butterflies encompass the monarch populations which migrate and breed primarily west of the Rocky Mountains. Their migratory pattern includes ‘overwintering’, a phase which begins in the late fall and ends in the springtime. During this overwintering period, monarchs will settle along the pacific coast to shelter and feed off a diversity of nectar plants. When spring arrives, the butterflies will fly inland to breed and lay eggs on milkweed, the monarch host plant.
During the 1980’s, Xerces Society documented about 4.5 million western monarch butterflies overwintering along the Pacific coast of California and Baja Mexico. During the fall of 2020, under 2,000 butterflies were documented in the entirety of California. This catastrophic decline shows that we are in grave danger of losing the western monarch if we do not act now to protect them. The most significant problems facing the western monarch include habitat loss, pesticide use and climate change.
This past fall, Xerces society documented Gill Tract Farm with the largest monarch overwintering population in the East Bay, and the 5th largest in California. Gill Tract Farm land is unique because it has little to no history of pesticide use or development, which gives the farm an uncommon asset in a state dominated by industrial agriculture. Gill Tract Farm also hosts a diversity of nectar and shelter plants that benefit western monarchs. Because of the alarming decline of western monarchs, we at the farm are proud of this remarkable finding and are motivated to protect and improve our site!
The monarch work crew meets at Gill Tract Farm to improve Monarch habitat every Sunday from 11 AM - 3 PM. This work involves collaboration with Sogorea Te Land Trust to rematriate the Quail/Village Creek area (south of the farm road), and East Bay Solidarity School, to deepen youth involvement with land stewardship. Together, we are replacing invasives with native plants, preparing space for a ceremonial arbor, rehabilitating our sick redwoods, and more! At 3 PM, we gather to meet about the campaign to protect the Monarch habitat. Join us at this meeting to discuss organizing and next steps.
Want to learn more about monarchs at the Gill Tract Farm?
Check out the links below that will provide more in-depth information on the monarchs at Gill Tract.
Be sure to email firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions!
- A report prepared for professors and staff at UC Berkeley when Gill Tract first learned about the monarchs on our farm.
- A letter written by Xerces Society Biologist in response to UC housing development
- An article written about us in Street Spirit Magazine
Help us with media and expertise. We want to better understand our Monarchs, and get the word out about the need to help them. Please reach out (email@example.com) if you are a journalist or specialist in the field.
Join the community circle! Become a farm volunteer and/or let us know you want to receive our newsletter by clicking the "Get involved" button below. Online and distance volunteers welcome, as well as farmers!
Donate, to help us compensate specialists who can guide our work with the Monarchs.