Protecting Overwintering Sites

Management Resources

Map of overwintering sites. Use this map to find an overwintering site by zooming in to areas or entering addresses of areas you are interested in visiting. You can click each site to get some basic information such as the site name, lat/long, the last time the site was monitored, how many monarchs were counted, etc. If you are interested in a kmz or shapefile version of this map and/or an associated Access database with more detailed count and habitat information, you can contact [email protected] to inquire for a copy. Please provide a short description of the purpose of your request, your name, and affiliation (if any). You will be required to agree to a data privacy and sharing policy.


Monarch Overwintering Grove Management Plan Template. This Management Plan Template is based upon the Lighthouse Field Management Plan by Pelton et al. 2017 and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Coastal Program Monitoring Framework by Marcum et al. 2014 / Prepared by: S. Marcum 10.2019. The template provides a framework to develop overwintering site management plans.


The Xerces Society. Protecting California’s Butterfly Groves: Management Guidelines for Monarch Butterfly Overwintering Habitat. These guidelines provide an overview of the biology and conservation of western monarchs; step-by-step guidance for developing a site-specific management plan, and overall guidance on topics including tree management, shrub and forb management, and visitor and public access issues. The document also includes a list of monarch-attractive native nectar plants suitable for coastal areas. These guidelines will help site managers become familiar with overwintering monarch habitat needs and provides a roadmap to develop site-specific management plans to benefit monarchs in both the short- and long-term.



The Xerces Society. State of the Monarch Butterfly Overwintering Sites in California. This report builds upon data collected at over 400 overwintering sites in California including population trends and habitat conditions. A top 50 list prioritizes sites for protection and active management, with conservation profiles for the top 25 sites. Read more about California Overwintering sites in the blog post “The Vanishing Butterfly Groves of California”.


Monarch Butterfly Site Management Plan for Lighthouse Field State Beach. The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, Groundswell Coastal Ecology, California Department of Parks and Recreation, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have developed a western monarch butterfly overwintering site management plan that also serves as a template for land managers at other overwintering sites.

The plan also outlines suggested public outreach and engagement activities, monarch mortality monitoring, and data collection that can be used to inform other research about western monarch migration and overwintering habits.



Monarch Butterfly Overwintering Site Management Plan for Pismo State Beach. The Pismo State Beach butterfly grove, like most monarch butterfly overwintering sites in California, has undergone a severe reduction in its monarch population. However, the site has been ranked as the most important site for conservation and restoration out of more than 100 California overwintering sites. The site is also an incredibly valuable opportunity for education, and with over 80,000 visitors annually, is one of the most popular monarch sites.

To help ensure that Pismo Beach continues to provide high quality habitat for monarchs, the Xerces Society, in coordination with California Department of Parks and Recreation and Creekside Center for Earth Observation, has prepared a site management plan for State Parks, with recommended actions to support overwintering monarchs in both the short and long term.


The Legal Status of Monarchs in California. The Xerces Society partnered with the International Environmental Law Project of the Lewis and Clark Law School to complete a review of the legal status of monarch butterflies in California, including summaries of any state, regional, or local regulations that pertain to the protection of monarch butterflies.


Department of Defense Legacy Resource Management Program. The Department of Defense Legacy Resource Management Program (DoD Legacy Program) refers to a nation-wide partnership with U.S. Forest Service International Programs to support monarch butterfly conservation. Program partners support DoD land managers identifying priority areas for conservation, collecting data on monarch habitat and populations, and developing best management practices for inventory and monitoring, and habitat management. Program partners include the Xerces Society, Monarch Joint Venture, California Association of Resource Conservation Districts, Environment for the Americas, and several university researchers.

Western Monarch Trail. The Western Monarch Trail is a collaborative effort initially developed by the Central Coast State Parks Association to provide information, education, and outreach to sites that support migrating western monarchs with nectar resources and overwintering habitat. Sites along the trail are designated with beautiful, interactive signs that provide consistent information on the status of western monarchs and how the public can take action to conserve the species. As of March 2024, the Western Monarch Trail is an iniative of the Xerces Society.

Bell, E., L.P. Brower, W.H. Calvert, J. Dayton, D. Frey, K. Leong, D. Murphy, R.M. Pyle, W. Sakai, K.B. Snow, and S. Weiss. 1993. The Monarch Project’s conservation and management guidelines for preserving the monarch butterfly migration and monarch overwintering habitat in California. A guide for land managers and community activists.


Western Monarch Overwintering Science Initiative. The Western Monarch Overwintering Science Initiative (M.O.S.I), is a collaborative group of land managers, university researchers, Western Monarch Count partners and volunteers, and governmental and non-governmental groups invested in advancing a collective understanding to aid western monarch conservation. Current applied research projects aim to improve forest management for overwintering monarchs in coastal California. These projects are currently funded by the US Forest Service International Programs and the US Department of Defense Legacy Resource Management Program.

Find more information and resources on the Xerces Society website.