A local Eagle Scout candidate who teamed up with a township resident to embark on a volunteer project to bring a monarch butterfly population to Windward Beach Park has completed his project. Now, just add butterflies!
Liam Bergin, who is completing the process of becoming an Eagle Scout, worked with township resident John Zingis, an environmental consultant, on the project. They called the project “Monarch Mountains” after the two hills near the access ramp to the waterfront pier on the Metedeconk River where the pair – with a small army of volunteers – planted native plants that attract the butterfly species.
Zingis said he and his wife are involved in a monarch tagging program in Cape May, and wanted to bring the same idea to Brick.
Numerous Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops came to pitch in this weekend, and the Windward Tavern restaurant donated chicken fingers for everyone to enjoy.
Despite some occasional comebacks, the monarch population has been on the downswing in recent years, with one of the lowest measurements of butterfly-populated areas having been recorded in 2014. Loss of habitat in summer breeding areas, such as New Jersey, and frequent storms combined with deforestation in Mexico, where the monarchs overwinter, have been cited as causes, according to Monarch Watch, a research and education program based out of the University of Kansas.
In New Jersey’s coastal regions, the monarchs are most often associated with autumn, when they arrive en masse on their trip southward.
The native plants will not only provide habitat and pollination opportunities, Zingis said, but put Windward Beach on the map as an area where the colorful insects congregate.