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Petition to Protect the Butterfly Forest: Bring Back the Rangers!

This April Cerro Pelon’s only full-time, year-round, fairly-compensated forest rangers were transferred to another site, leaving this iconic butterfly sanctuary unprotected. Join us along with committed monarch conservationists Catalina Aguado-Trail, Homero Aridjis, and Dr. Lincoln Brower to urge the relevant officials to Bring the Rangers Back! Click here to sign and share the petition. Here’s the full text of the letter:

Dear CEPANAF Director Anna Sofía Manzur García-Maass, State of Mexico Governor Eruviel Ávila Villegas, State of Mexico Governor-Elect Alfredo Del Mazo Maza and Latin American and Caribbean UNESCO World Heritage Chief Mauro Rosi:

Every winter millions of monarch butterflies fly thousands of kilometers to roost on a few acres of high altitude conifer forest in Mexico’s Transvolcanic Mountain Range. The monarch colonies were first discovered on Cerro Pelón in the State of Mexico on January 2, 1975. Since then, the migration that connects the three North American nations has received thousands of national and international visitors every year. The monarchs’ overwintering sites were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site and thus part of the patrimony of humanity in 2008.

For more than 30 years, La Comisión Estatal de Parques Naturales y de la Fauna (CEPANAF) of the State of Mexico has paid rangers to protect the forests of the monarch colony on Cerro Pelón. CEPANAF rangers started patrolling the area shortly after the migration was discovered. They stayed on the job even after the area was reclassified as part of the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve under the management of the National Commission of Protected Areas. Despite these administrative changes, no other institution has been willing to provide full-time, long-term, decently compensated employment for forest protection on Cerro Pelón like CEPANAF has. But in April of this year, the three CEPANAF rangers were transferred to another site, leaving Cerro Pelón unprotected.

Persistent poverty in adjacent communities makes illegal logging an ongoing problem. Logging threatens to destroy the distinctive microclimate that protects the monarch colonies. But the efforts of two generations of CEPANAF rangers over the past three decades have helped to keep clandestine logging at bay. At the moment, Cerro Pelón is the most pristine of the monarch sanctuaries open to the public. But since the rangers were transferred, there is already noticeably more logging on Cerro Pelón.

We urge you to continue your commitment to the protection of the historic Cerro Pelón sanctuary by continuing to allocate full-time, fairly compensated workers to patrol and protect the area throughout the entire year. The challenges facing the survival of the migration of this iconic insect are well known. The deforestation that will result from leaving this landmark forest unattended will hasten the end of the migratory phenomenon. There is a great deal of international interest and funding available to make sure that the monarchs’ miraculous migration endures. Finding a way to continue your commitment to the presence of at least three year-round workers on Cerro Pelón is a small price to pay to protect one of nature’s irreplaceable treasures. 

Sincerely,

Catalina Aguado-Trail

Discovered the Monarchs’ Overwintering Sites with her husband in 1975

Recipient of 2012 State of Mexico José María Luis Mora Medal for her work in conservation

 Homero Aridjis

President of the Group of 100 and Member of the High Level Working Group for the Conservation of the Monarch Butterfly Migratory Phenomenon

Lincoln P. Brower

Research Professor of Biology, Sweet Briar College (and Distinguished Service Professor of Zoology Emeritus, University of Florida)