The City of Holmes Beach should be ashamed of itself. The wanton destruction of a community butterfly garden, Anna Maria Island Butterfly Park, flies in the face of a nationwide trend to preserve and encourage pollinator habitat for the insects that make one out of every three bites of our food possible.
More than 150 communities across the country embrace the National Wildlife Federation’s Mayor’s Monarch Pledge to encourage the restoration of pollinator habitat. Holmes Beach destroys an established butterfly garden located right next to city hall.
The garden, built in 1999 by the Manasota Chapter of the North American Butterfly Association, has been thoughtfully nurtured ever since, providing untold hours of enjoyment to those who visited it. Many volunteers worked tirelessly and spent many hours creating the garden — at no expense to the city of Holmes Beach.
I was shocked to visit the garden on April 12, only to find the entire habitat had been destroyed. The giant milkweed plant — which is the host plant for monarch butterflies, meaning it is the only plant on which the migrating butterflies will lay their eggs to produce future generations — is dead. The wild lime tree, host plant for giant swallowtails, had been removed entirely.
In May of 2015, President Obama issued the National Pollinator Strategy which sets out goals to increase the bee population by 15 percent, grow the Monarch population back to its historic average of 225 million, and restore 7 million acres of pollinator habitat over the next five years. What were the commissioners thinking when they demolished the Anna Maria Island Butterfly Park? I guess they weren’t.
With all due respect, I request that the City of Holmes Beach explain itself and offer a mitigation plan for restoring the lost pollinator habitat.