Rasor Park Milkweed Restoration
Our 2021 "Monarch Miracle!"
Amazingly, Rick Ahrens spotted this female Monarch nectaring on milkweed in Rasor Park on June 16, 2021. This was one of fewer than two dozen Monarch sightings reported in Oregon last year. We are hoping more Monarchs will visit the park this year—help us keep a look out!
Thank You, Milkweed Volunteers!
Special thanks to everyone who has helped prepare ground, plant, water and weed around showy milkweed plants over the years! We have planted more plants almost every year since 2016 and now have over 100 stems of mature, blooming milkweed.
Milkweed is a hardy native plant well adapted to summer drought conditions here in the Willamette Valley. However, it takes some extra TLC in early stages to get it to survive and thrive. Indeed, it has taken a village to get this far—with folks growing out two-year-old milkweed starts, laying shade cloth to kill grass, carefully planting the delicate bare-root plants into deep holes, setting up a watering barrel, and individuals or teams descending on the park twice a week all summer after each new round of planting, hauling water jugs on wagons.
There are now four good-sized milkweed patches in the park. The milkweed plants will continue to spread by seeds or rhizomes on their own if we help keep them from being choked out by invasive grasses and weeds. There are also new milkweed starts we planted this season that will need watering this summer. Let us know if you can help!
Frank Thomson, Maradee Girt, Peter James, Becky Riley, James Hershiser, Clare Strawn, Joe Castino, Newt Loken, Deb Bernhard & Flagg, Liz Van Buren, Nancy Boyd, Jolene Siemsen, Lori Howard, Asha Jenny Ulrich, Hafiz Leland, Robert Taube, Sydney Kissinger, Bruce Eveland, Juliet Thompson, Julie Hulme, and everyone else who pitched in!
Milkweed for Monarchs
Monarchs in the Willamette Valley
Beautiful Monarch butterflies were once common summer visitors to the southern Willamette Valley. Historically they overwintered in forested groves on the California coast, and made a spectacular annual migration north through Oregon and Eastern Washington for the summer breeding season.
Western Monarchs are in Trouble
Overwintering populations of Monarchs in California have declined by over 95% since the 1980s. From 2017 to 2020, the western migration collapsed to new lows and scientists believed they were on the verge of extinction. There are multiple factors that are thought to be driving the precipitous decline, including habitat loss, pesticides, and climate change.
Monarchs Need Milkweed & Nectar
Monarchs require milkweed to reproduce—it is the only plant they will lay their eggs on, and that their caterpillars will eat. (Adult Monarchs also require other nectar flowers throughout their lifespan.) Milkweed and other native nectar flowers were once common in the Willamette Valley, but now are rare as nearly all the native prairie has been plowed and paved to make way for farms and gardens, housing, and roadways.
Bringing Back Milkweed—and Monarchs?
We are in the midst of a multi-year effort, started in 2016, to re-introduce showy milkweed (and other native prairie plants) to Rasor Park to help improve breeding and migration habitat for Monarchs along the Willamette River Greenway and migration corridor.