Monarch Conservation Program

Monarch Update

January 2023: The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation reports over 330,000 monarchs were counted at overwintering sites before storms. Surveying a total of 272 overwintering sites across coastal California and a few sites in interior California and Arizona, volunteers tallied 335,479 monarch butterflies during the 2022 Thanksgiving Count which ran November 12 - December 4, 2022.

Helping Monarch Butterflies and Other Pollinators in Contra Costa County

Supporting pollinator health is an essential part of how the CCRCD encourages biodiversity and ecosystem sustainability in Contra Costa County. In order to best support pollinator conservation efforts in our area, we rely on the latest scientific research on pollinators to ensure the practices we teach and implement are safe and effective. A few of the resources we depend upon for information include the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, The Monarch Joint Venture, and several local scientists with expertise in pollinator conservation.

This CCRCD Monarch Conservation Program web page delves into the importance of pollinators and ways you can help them right now. It is packed with helpful resources for learning more about monarchs and other pollinators. Please note that the information on this page is specifically tailored to be most helpful to people who live or work in Contra Costa County and for supporting pollinator populations in the West.

Click here to read the press release about grant funding that the CCRCD was awarded to help monarchs on Contra Costa’s working lands.

Please reach out to us if you have questions about monarch butterflies or other pollinators and ways you can help them.

Why Do Pollinators Matter?

Status of the Western Monarch Butterfly Population

  • There are two primary monarch populations in the U.S. and, unfortunately, both are in decline. The CCRCD’s program focuses on the western monarch population, which is found west of the Rockies. Although we’ll continue to refer to the western monarch population, please note that there is interbreeding between the two populations, and they are not genetically distinct.
  • There is still much we do not know about monarch migrations. Here is a map showing the confirmed and unconfirmed migration paths. Read more about monarch migrations here.
  • Most western monarchs gather on trees at overwintering sites along 620 miles of the Pacific coast from California’s Mendocino County to Baja California, Mexico. They start to gather at these sites in September and continue to overwinter through February. Check out this map to see where California’s monarch overwintering sites are located.
  • The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation reports that the western monarch population overwintering in California has dwindled from approximately 4.5 million in the 1980s to approximately 29,000 in 2019—that’s a decline of over 99%! Xerces also states that “the projected threshold for quasi-extinction of western monarchs is 30,000 individuals.”
  • The western monarch butterfly population decrease is primarily due to climate change, pesticides, disease, and habitat loss.
  • According to the Xerces Society, the 5 key steps to recovering the western monarch population in the short term are:
  • ~ Protect and manage California overwintering sites
  • ~ Restore breeding and migratory habitat in California
  • ~ Protect monarchs and their habitat from pesticides
  • ~ Protect, manage, and restore summer breeding and fall migration monarch habitat outside of California
  • ~ Answer key research questions about how to best aid western monarch recovery
  • ~ The Xerces Society’s Western Monarch Conservation web page is one of the best places to find updates on the status of the western monarch butterfly population and conservation efforts
  • As you can see in the map of California below (left), the entirety of Contra Costa County (circled in red) is within the Priority #1 Action Zone for recovering western monarchs.

Priority #1 Action Zone for recovering western monarchs

Click image to read about the Western Monarch Call to Action

Monarch Overwintering Sites in West Contra Costa County

Overwintering sites are shown in red. The Contra Costa County boundary line is shown in blue. Click image to expand.

The development and creation of this Monarch Conservation Program web page was funded by the California Association of Resource Conservation Districts and a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

Pollinator Photo Gallery

CCRCD staff are always on the lookout for monarchs and other pollinators. Whenever we can, we take photos in the field so we can share the splendor of California’s biodiverse pollinators with you. The photo gallery below features many different types of pollinators, pollinator plants, and pollinator gardens and hedgerows. Enjoy!

Lisa Damerel

Watershed Conservation Manager



Lisa Damerel

Skills: Horticulture, CA native plants, invasive plant management, pollinators, environmental education, project management, grant writing

Fun Fact: Enjoys birding, photography, knitting, flower arranging, and traveling

Lisa Damerel

Lisa serves as Watershed Conservation Manager for the Walnut Creek Watershed, she facilitates the Contra Costa Watershed Forum, and she leads the CCRCD’s Monarch Conservation Program. She joined the CCRCD’s staff in January 2019. She has worked on a range of projects to conserve Contra Costa County's watersheds and biodiversity including native plant establishment, pollinator habitat establishment, invasive plant management, environmental education programming, and creek restoration.

Lisa is from Los Angeles and has a BA with Honors in English from the University of California at Berkeley. She earned a Professional Sequence in Editing certificate from UC Berkeley Extension and worked in publishing for 10 years, primarily editing educational materials including science textbooks and curricula.

Her passion for nature led her back to school to study horticulture at Diablo Valley College where she earned a Nursery Technician certificate. She likes hiking with friends and family, eating chocolate, watching baseball, and creating beautiful things.