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Featured Image: Residents of the Hampton Hill Homeowners Association will gather on Saturday morning, July 2, to plant milkweed, a valuable plant for Monarch Butterfly habitats that feeds Monarch larvae. Photo: Courtesy of Joshua Gollish

By Breeana Greenberg

The Hampton Hill Homeowners Association (HOA) in Dana Point is holding a homeowners planting event on Saturday, July 2, at 9 a.m. to bring neighbors together to plant a Monarch Butterfly habitat in the community.

As a result of the HOA board’s efforts to secure a grant, the community will plant 96 donated milkweed plants in the cul-de-sac of Bridgehampton Drive.

“We’re hoping our residents will come out with a rake, hoe or a shovel and help build our Hampton Hill Monarch Butterfly Waystation,” HOA Director and President Doug McCafferty said. “We want to do our part because we can.”

The effort to plant a Monarch Butterfly habitat began as a result of the HOA board clearing vegetation on hillsides in the community to mitigate fire hazards.

Hampton Hill has acres of both planted and open space as one of the largest landowners in Dana Point, McCafferty explained. A few years ago, he said, the board worked to clear “large swaths of Acacia in order to protect our homes from a wildfire on our slopes,” but hoped to replant drought-tolerant plants on the cleared hillside.

After the Hampton Hill HOA heard about the City of Dana Point’s efforts to plant Monarch Butterfly habitats in city parks, board members reached out to the city to learn how to participate in planting more habitats. The city put the HOA board in touch with Monarch Watch, a nonprofit education, conservation and research program that is affiliated with the University of Kansas.

Monarch Watch offers educational resources and information on the importance of creating Monarch habitats, how to plant your own butterfly garden and how to grow milkweed. It also provides information on resources for free milkweed for large restoration projects and schools and educational nonprofits.

The HOA board learned from Monarch Watch’s website that there are grants available for milkweed, a valuable plant for Monarch habitats. According to Monarch Watch, Monarch Butterfly larvae “appear to feed exclusively on milkweeds.”

Butterfly habitats are being lost at a rapid pace because of development, Monarch Watch Director Chip Taylor said in a prepared statement.

“Development is consuming 6,000 acres a day, a loss of 2.2 million acres per year,” Taylor said. “Further, the overuse of herbicides along roadsides and elsewhere is turning diverse areas that support Monarchs, pollinators, and other wildlife into grass-filled landscapes that support few species.”

“If these trends continue, Monarchs are certain to decline, threatening the very existence of their magnificent migration,” Taylor continued.

The Hampton Hill HOA board applied for a grant, which was expedited because of an excess of plants available from a donor who authorized the extra milkweed to be used on smaller projects.

While HOA was hoping to cover the slopes, the drought and cost of irrigation is preventing it from doing that at this time. The habitat that the community will be planting on Saturday will be fed from a natural hillside spring that flows on the property, McCafferty explained.

“Our Board of Directors took on the project as a team,” McCafferty said. “The Hampton Hill Homeowners Association has the infrastructure and the ability to help, so our Board of Directors are taking action to assist the Monarchs. After all, we do have a Monarch Beach in Dana Point.”

Breeana Greenberg

Breeana Greenberg is the city reporter for the Dana Point Times. She graduated from Chapman University with a bachelor of arts degree in English. Before joining Picket Fence Media, she worked as a freelance reporter with the Laguna Beach Independent. Breeana can be reached by email at bgreenberg@picketfencemedia.com

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