The Obama administration and conservation groups launched an ambitious national effort on Monday to halt the decline of the monarch butterfly. The initiative, Save the Monarch Butterfly, is a large-scale public-private partnership. The government and environmental groups are soliciting the public’s help in restoring habitat in schools, at homes, and in community places.

It is estimated that the monarch population has declined by up to 90% in the last 20 years. The numbers mirror the decline of honey bees. Increased agricultural production, the destruction of milkweed, and drought have destroyed habitat, resulting in fewer butterflies. The precipitous decline may also be an indicator of larger, systemic issues with the environment. According to the The Guardian and other news outlets, the initiative will provide $2M “to grow milkweed and other butterfly-friendly plants along the monarchs’ main migration routes from Minnesota to Mexico.” The goal is to restore more than 200,000 acres of habitat.

Suzanne Goldenberg (@suzyji) reports for The Guardian:

“We need to turn that around,” Dan Ashe, director of US Fish and Wildlife Service, told the Guardian. “If you look at the 20-year trend definitely monarchs are at risk of vanishing.”

Want to dig deeper? Read UC ANR’s The Real Skinny on Migrating Monarchs, Milkweed, by Kathy Keatley Garvey (@keatleygarvey)