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Bringing Native Milkweed Back to Long Beach

Surfrider Long Beach celebrated Latino Conservation Week with a native milkweed giveaway at Willow Springs Park with classes about milkweed and monarchs in both English and Spanish. Our community showed up in impressive numbers to adopt plants and support our local ecosystem!

Santa Monica Mountains Fund (SAMO) has grown 25,000 narrowleaf milkweed seedlings at their native plant nursery to distribute across LA and Ventura County this summer. Surfrider Long Beach teamed up with Puente Latino Association and SAMO to host two giveaways in Long Beach, providing our community with an opportunity to restore monarch butterfly habitat in our yards and green spaces. The team at Long Beach Sustainability  was an enormous help at Willow Springs Park, and we are so grateful for the collective effort of all the organizations and volunteers that made these amazing events possible. We were overwhelmed with community support and enthusiasm, and are looking forward to keeping this momentum going! 

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We distributed an incredible 2,984 narrowleaf milkweed seedlings to 429 households in Long Beach at the July 15th event. Combined with the giveaway we held in June, that is a grand total of 4,862 milkweed plants given to 745 households! By holding the giveaways in North Long Beach and a central location like Willow Springs, we were able to increase the accessibility of the events and prioritize residents in underserved areas. 

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Community members from across Long Beach picked up 5 milkweed seedlings per household, enough to feed a few hungry caterpillars at a time. Under the shade of a big tree, milkweed expert Bryan Pérez Bado led classes about how to care for the milkweed seedlings and why milkweed is an important plant to restore monarch butterfly habitat. The crowd had lots of questions, and Bryan gladly answered all concerns and curiosities in English and Spanish. He did an amazing job creating an inclusive and welcoming environment for all of the class participants!  

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Narrowleaf milkweed (Asclepias fascicularis) is an important native plant historically found across LA county. It is one of the few plant species found locally that can feed the caterpillars of the endangered monarch butterflies, and also feeds other butterfly species and pollinators like moths, beetles, bees. Much of the original narrowleaf milkweed population has suffered habitat loss due to urban development and agriculture. 

By reintroducing narrowleaf milkweed to our yards, balconies, and community gardens, we can help support the life cycle of these amazing and whimsical creatures. Narrowleaf milkweed is a great option for summer gardening, as it does well being planted and watered in the summer heat and goes dormant in fall and winter. 


Unfortunately, monarch butterflies, like many other insects, have dwindled in numbers due to habitat loss, climate change, and pesticide use. When we use pesticides on ornamental plants or crops, it impacts not only our beloved bees and butterflies, but our aquatic ecosystems too. 

Pesticides are carried by runoff to storm drains and groundwater, ending up in wetlands, rivers, and oceans. Many of these chemicals last a long time in the environment and can harm wildlife like fish and aquatic invertebrates that support complex food chains. You can help protect pollinators and clean water by taking our Pesticide-free pledge and exploring non-toxic pest-control options

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We had a great time seeing the community come together and rally to support the monarch butterflies by adopting plants for their homes and community spaces. It is inspiring to see so many people of all ages and backgrounds unite to make positive, hands-on change for the future of our environment and the wildlife we love. Together we can grow more good in our communities, and create the resilient future we want to see.  

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Discover how our chapter is promoting sustainable landscaping practices that support clean water, native plants, and pollinators through the Ocean Friendly Gardens program. We are always looking for volunteers to help lend a hand! If you adopted narrowleaf milkweed plants, check out these informative resources that SAMO has provided on their website to learn more about caring for your new plants.