Monarch butterfly on milkweed bloom.

Salem Mayor Chuck Bennett has joined other city chief executives across the United States, Canada, and Mexico to take action to help save the monarch butterfly! Won’t you join the Mayor in the fight to protect this beautiful species?

In December 2017, Mayor Chuck Bennett signed a proclamation to join the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Wildlife Federation’s Mayor’s Monarch Pledge. Now the City of Salem is working to bring the Mayor's Monarch Pledge campaign to the public.

What is the issue?

The most well recognized butterfly, the monarch, is facing rapidly decreasing populations, habitat loss, and near extinction.

Herbicides are killing off monarchs and milkweed plants when used to target other unwanted pests and plants. Use of herbicides has resulted in limited areas of monarch habitat available as stopover spots during the monarchs' great migration between Canada and Mexico. Land clearing also contributes to loss of habitat. Residential properties make up approximately 47% of the urban landscape in Salem, meaning there are fewer areas suitable for monarchs to use during their 2,500-mile migration.  But you can help!

What can you do to help?

Plant milkweed in your garden, yard, or neighborhood. Since monarch caterpillars rely solely on milkweed, it is critical for their survival.  Without this plant they cannot complete their lifecycle and their populations will continue to decline.

We strongly suggest planting milkweed native to our region, which includes:

  • Asclepias fascicularis (Narrow-leaved Milkweed)
  • Asclepias speciosa (Showy Milkweed)

Note: Do not plant tropical milkweed, as it is not native to the U.S. and can create problems with monarch migration.

Other ways you can help:

  • Plant a pollinator garden with native nectar-producing plants along with your milkweed.
  • Garden organically and limit the use of pesticides and herbicides.
  • Educate others about pollinators and what they can do to help.
  • Monarchs can be found in the Pacific Northwest from May to September, so look for butterfly flowers that bloom then.
  • Look for plants with overlapping bloom times. (Download a pdf brochure.)
  • Plant a single species in clusters in sunny locations.
  • Before buying plants, ask your nursery about their use of systemic insecticides. These pesticides can be especially harmful to butterflies and other beneficial insects.

What the City of Salem is doing

  • Encouraging community members in Salem to plant monarch gardens at their homes or in their neighborhoods.
  • Connecting with community garden groups to encourage the planting of native milkweed and nectar-producing plants.
  • Working to revise mowing programs on city property to encourage the development of monarch habitat.
  • Planting monarch friendly demonstration gardens on city property including City Hall, located at 555 Liberty Street SE, and Eola Ridge Park, located on Dan Avenue NW.
  • Engaging schools and youth to plant native milkweed and nectar plants in their school gardens and on school property. Contact us to get on our mailing list to secure a presentation in the 2018-19 school year.
  • Working to adopt less harmful pesticide practices.


Monarch butterfly populations have declined by 90% since the 1990s.

Interesting facts about the monarch

  • Specific name: Danaus plexippus
  • A group of butterflies is called a kaleidoscope or flutter.
  • Size: Wingspan 3.7–4.1 inches
  • Weight: 0.0095–0.026 ounces, less than 3/4 the weight of a dollar bill.
  • Average life span: 6​–8 months
  • The monarch migration is around 2,500 miles.
  • The monarch can fly between 50 and 100 miles per day, and the longest flight was 265 miles.


Contact us

Natural ResourcesPublic Works Department
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