Butterfly Town, USA

About This Episode


Known as "Butterfly Town, U.S.A.," Pacific Grove in Monterey County, California is the site of the annual migration of monarch butterflies. The Monarch Butterfly Grove Sanctuary in the coastal city is one of the oldest monarch over-wintering sights in the state, but in recent years their numbers have been dwindling rapidly. In 2009, the city heavily pruned branches, and gaps in the tree canopy resulted in the monarch population dropping from nearly 18,000 to under 800.

Butterfly Town, USA centers on a community of activists who took action to save the sanctuary. Bob Pacelli and a group of volunteers planted 40 boxed trees to buffer the impact of the trimming and as a result, monarch numbers increased by more than 500%. Motivated by their progress, more trees were planted which led to a clash between activists and the city about how best to protect the over-wintering site. The film focuses on the local habitat protection for the sanctuary, but also on a larger goal: citizens working together globally to limit habitat loss due to climate change, deforestation and pesticides.