Saline Valley Monarch Count 

Welcome Volunteers!

We are seeking adventure citizen scientists, avid hikers, and those with wilderness experience to help count monarchs in Saline Valley weekly from October through January.


Survey Opportunities 

We are seeking volunteers to survey Saline Valley every week beginning in mid-October! The survey data collected by our volunteers is part of a larger effort to count monarchs in the West and is part of the Western Monarch Thanksgiving and New Years Counts

Western Monarch Thanksgiving Count: November 11 - December 3

New Years Count: December 23 - January 7

If you are interested in signing up, please visit the link below to learn more about survey protocols and sign up!

Note: all new volunteers must survey with an experienced volunteer. 

The Western Monarch Thanksgiving Count is one of the most critical times for us to survey. During the overwintering period, monarchs congregate in clusters along coastal California and in a few inland spots like Saline Valley. This is the best time to count monarchs and survey the population since the butterflies generally stay in one place and are not active in the early morning hours. The data is used to estimate the western monarch population. Please let us know if you may be able to survey during this period. If you can't make it, please help us to spread to word to others that may be interested! 

Calendar of Events

Why count monarchs?

In the winter of 2021-2022, nearly 250,000 monarchs were counted during the Western Monarch Counts. This was a 100-fold increase in monarchs from the previous survey year when only 2,000 monarchs were reported. Despite the modest rebound, monarch butterflies in the west have declined by approximately 99.9% since the 1980's when 4.5 million monarchs were counted. Monitoring overwintering monarch populations is one way scientists gain insight into the status of the monarch and how much the population varies from year to year.

Where is the Saline Valley?

The Saline Valley is adjacent to Death Valley National Park in eastern California. For more information click here.

Inland monarch survey site coordinators

Rachel Laura, founder of the modern day Saline Valley Monarch Count.
Joanna Gilkeson, co-coordinator of the Saline Valley Monarch Count

We ❤️ monarchs! After discovering Saline Valley monarch survey records dating back to the 1970s, Rachel founded the modern version of the Saline Valley Monarch Count in 2017 by recruiting dedicated citizen scientists.  Joanna and Rachel met at a Western Monarch survey training in San Diego and bonded over their love of butterflies and monarchs. Joanna assumed co-coordinator from 2018 until 2020, when she moved briefly to Minnesota, but not being able to stay away from the West, Joanna is back in California and is excited to count in Saline Valley again! With Rachel's wildlife biology experience and Joanna's conservation communication background, the two use their strengths to co-coordinate the Saline Valley monarch count. Learn more about our calling to help monarchs and butterflies.

A big THANK YOU to our partners!!!

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