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Specialized Gardens Offer More Than A Wing And A Prayer To Monarch Butterflies And More Local News

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Over the last two years, the monarch butterfly population has fallen below critical levels in California, but there is reason for hope.

Plus, a recent transportation survey is asking San Diegans who drive to work alone every day if they would ever consider alternative transportation; and San Diego City Council members are considering hiring a full-time childcare coordinator to update city policies and aid employees with young children.

Show transcript

Speaker 1: 00:00 Good morning. It's Friday, June 7th. I'm Deb Welsh and you're listening to San Diego news matters. The last two years have not been kind to the monarch butterflies living along the west coast KPBS environment reporter Eric Anderson says, the population of the iconic insect pledged below 30,000 this year. The insects future prospects appear DM

Speaker 2: 00:24 normal heights. Front Yard is a certified natural habitat.

Speaker 3: 00:28 If it's not food, it's not in the yard. It's got to be food for somebody. Uh, whether it be a butterfly, a certain type of butterfly of be birds. Um, it really needs to be either a host plant or a nectar plants.

Speaker 2: 00:41 Ramy, the Misskey embraces the tranquil activity that surrounds her home. It's just my little, everything's okay spot sprinkled among the colorful plants are different kinds of milkweed. That's important as a Musky because outback back and watch the little critter via duck. She's got an entire greenhouse devoted to raising and releasing monarch butterflies. She separates eggs from tiny caterpillars, separates tiny caterpillars from larger ones. They're just robbing us. Once the caterpillars have finally eaten enough, they look for a place to hang and form their colorful chrysalis. Then musky waits for the orange, black and white butterfly to emerge.

Speaker 3: 01:22 Yeah, so this guy's got a little more ways to go when and with the cooler darker, whether he might wait a little bit longer.

Speaker 2: 01:30 Does the mosquito welcomes a couple hundred monarch butterflies into the world every month. She says caring for the iconic insects consumes or weekends and she's willing to spend enough money to make sure there's plenty of milkweed on hand for the process. Monarchs are probably one of the most, if not the most valuable insects in the world. Bryce Simmons works at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and yeah, San Diego people spend a lot of money to plant monarch gardens. They pay a lot of money to go see monarchs in Mexico and over wintering or in the eucalyptus groves here, and they have very strong values. Sermons help develop a model that predicts the health of the monarch butterflies populations both in the east and western United States. It turns out that the models that we used to describe how a population changes through time are the same as if we're modeling fish or monarch butterfly.

Speaker 2: 02:21 Those models show a steady and dramatic decline of monarchs on the West Coast. The population topped 1.2 million in the 1990s and salmon says the number of migrating monarchs is currently on Harold Purge. What they use is an is an extinction threshold or a point at which the population would hit it and most likely it would now be in a vortex and extinction vortex where it won't be able to pull out. And they used as a number 30,000 individual, 30,000 monarchs. We'll just, this last winter we were below that pesticides, storms and now even climate change are posing problems for the colorful butterfly. What was once a friendly is turning more hostile because in really dry hot, uh, years, milkweed doesn't grow so well across the range of where it normally would and they're obligated breeders on Milkweed, they have to have milkweed and ordered or to reproduce. And so to some extent, wherever the milkweed isn't, the monarchs can't be.

Speaker 2: 03:18 But someone says it's the migration behavior that's likely at risk of going extinct, not the butterfly itself. Volunteers count the migrating butterflies when they gather it over wintering sites. Typically a grove of eucalyptus trees near the coast, but many historic wintering spots in San Diego County and elsewhere, no longer attract monarchs. The ones here we're pretty sure are not migrating at all. John Merriman runs butterfly farms in Encinitas and he raises monarchs to share their story with local children. He knows that the colorful insects face challenges, especially early in their lifecycle. When other insects like flies, pose a threat. Then there's bacterial infections. There's viral infections. I have to get into a mold or mildew or fungus, it's going to probably kill him. Uh, so there's, there's a lot that can go wrong and that's before, that's before any predators even. But he says monarchs are also good at survival. The milkweed they eat makes them noxious to most birds and they're persistent, friendly social behavior. It might be why the term social butterfly remains popular. It's a really prolific butterfly. Uh, they're serious about reproduction. While the monarchs are resilient, they do require a milkweed for their survival, but fortunately for them there is plenty of milkweed in southern California. Eric Anderson KPBS news.

Speaker 1: 04:37 If you're one of the thousands of San Diego's who drive to work alone each day, would you consider taking alternative transportation? That's the question posed in a recent transportation survey. KPBS as Maya AAAC explains,

Speaker 4: 04:51 the survey commissioned by Sandag is being used to form a better understanding of how people in San Diego and western Riverside County choose to get to work and what it would take to get them to consider greener options. Of the 4,000 people who took the commuter behavior survey more than half said they would choose an alternative commute at least once a week. The factors that would encourage them to do so would be improvements in travel time, accessibility and incentives. Dr. Cynthia Burke, director of applied research at Sandag says, finding ways to be competitive with solo driving will help reduce vehicle miles traveled or VMT and thus reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Speaker 5: 05:30 We could receive and get people exploring alternatives one day a week and a significant proportion of individuals. Did that we could, we could have some type of effect on the VMT and the region.

Speaker 4: 05:41 84% of the people surveyed say they currently drive alone to work. Maya, triple C K PBS news when

Speaker 1: 05:49 House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi address the California Democratic Party convention over the weekend, delegates interrupted her with shouts of mph, but a new poll shows that calls for president Trump's impeachment are out of step with a majority of Californians. Capitol public radio's been Adler reports Polosi. Yeah,

Speaker 6: 06:06 vow to investigate the president, but she did not use the word impeach that led. Some of the crowd does shout it out for her. The speaker wasn't surprised.

Speaker 7: 06:15 I told you this was like coming home from a

Speaker 6: 06:19 and the new Public Policy Institute of California Pole bears that out two thirds of Golden State Democrats say Congress should begin impeachment proceedings. Here's convention delegate in Chico City Council member Alex Brown.

Speaker 8: 06:30 We have the process for a reason. We should use it sparingly and we should only use it when the person in leadership is a threat to our democracy.

Speaker 6: 06:38 But even in deep blue, California, likely voters oppose. Even starting the impeachment process for the moment at least 54% to 42% back of some democratic delegates. Pause, including Tony Fellow from Los Angeles County

Speaker 8: 06:51 and I believe if a Democrat that if we continue on this course in the United States Congress, we're going to lose the house and we're going to lose the presidency.

Speaker 6: 06:59 9% of Republicans and 39% of independence say they'd support impeachment proceedings. I'm Ben Adler.

Speaker 1: 07:06 Quality Childcare and San Diego can be tough to find for parents of young children. Kpbs Metro reporter Andrew Bowen says, City Council members are asking the mayor to fund a new city position that could help with that. A child care coordinator

Speaker 7: 07:21 [inaudible]

Speaker 9: 07:25 Rosie homes is picking up her three year old daughter, Izzy from her daycare in Lincoln Park.

Speaker 7: 07:29 Wait, I got to sign you out. Okay. Okay.

Speaker 9: 07:33 Homes is a single mom. She started her job as a clerk in the city treasurer's office a year ago. She says in those early days, she spent every lunch break making phone calls and researching

Speaker 8: 07:43 in child and trying to find out what's the difference between a county program. What's the difference between a state funded program, what's available to me?

Speaker 9: 07:52 San Diego has a severe shortage of childcare facilities and the system can be confusing for first time parents. City Councilman Chris Kate says a child care coordinator would help the city recruit and retain talented workers, especially women, and improve access to childcare for everyone and have that person work with different stakeholders. Look at a impediments to increasing the supply offer policy recommendations to the city that we can do to help, uh, address the shortage that we have. The child care coordinator position would cost about $118,000. The city council is scheduled to approve a budget for the next fiscal year. On Monday, Andrew Bowen, Kpbs News,

Speaker 1: 08:32 Sacramento police will march in uniform at the city's Gay Pride parade after all capital public radio is Randall wide. Has the story of the agreement reached with the festivals organizers?

Speaker 6: 08:43 It made national headlines this week when the Sacramento LGBT community center announced officers were not welcome to march in uniform. During the annual parade, organizers said the move was to the pain and marginalization of people harmed by police violence. The Pride Event Commemorates the 50th anniversary of the stonewall riots when police raided a gay bar in New York and the community fought back openly. Gay Sacramento Police Captain Pamela Seifert helped negotiate the new agreement.

Speaker 5: 09:12 There's a laundry list of things that we've already done, but what our meeting did was allow us to reestablish our relationship and take a look at what we need to do better, but we need to do more of

Speaker 6: 09:24 cyber. It says some in the LGBT community. Don't feel comfortable approaching an officer in uniform, and that needs to be fixed in Sacramento. I'm Randall white.

Speaker 1: 09:35 Thanks for listening to San Diego News matters. For more KPBS podcasts, go to k pbs.org/podcasts.

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San Diego News Matters

KPBS' daily news podcast covering local politics, education, health, environment, the border and more. New episodes are ready weekday mornings so you can listen on your morning commute.