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Thursday, July 18, 2024

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Monarch Habitat Grows at Sunset Beach

By Press Release

VILLAS – Kevin Maloney, of the Cape May Maritime Museum, updated Lower Township Council on the progress of the volunteer groups’ efforts to incorporate a migratory monarch butterfly habitat project in addition to a historically accurate replica of the 1876 U.S. Lifesaving Station at Sunset Beach.
Maloney said that the maritime museum is partnering with the state Department of Environmental Protection Fish and Wildlife, Rutgers’ University Master Gardeners, Cape May County MUA, Boy Scout Troop #87, Cape May Audubon Society, Mitchell Nichols Excavation, the Sportsman’s Club and the Hume family who operate Sunset Beach Gift Shop to create the habitat. Citing a decline in Monarch butterflies and the fact that the area is a strategic stopover for the insect’s 3,000-mile migration, Maloney reported that phase one of the project was underway. When completed, the site will hold native plants, trails and educational kiosks to demonstrate monarch tagging and the importance of the monarch butterfly.
Rutgers’ University Master Gardeners, headed by Evelyn Lovitz, volunteered to design the gardens. Joseph Rizzuto, Cape May County MUA executive director, championed the successful donation of topsoil and Michell Nichols Excavation delivered the material. The DEP will provide the grading of the area and Boy Scout Troop, under direction of Councilman Tom Conrad, will assist with planting. Larry & Michelle Hume and the Sportsman’s Club have volunteered to assist with irrigation.
The first phase of planting will use over 1200 native plants that monarchs need to survive and is expected to start in the end of May. Maloney said that by late fall, the Cape May Point Bird Observatory’s monarch monitoring project will set up educational kiosks for better public understanding of the migratory monarch.  

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