Rosalynn Carter Butterfly Trail
The Rosalynn Carter Butterfly Trail, inspired by former First Lady Rosalynn Carter, is an effort to create habitats for monarch butterflies and to educate the public on what butterflies need to survive and how to create butterfly-friendly gardens.
Monarch butterflies contribute to the health of the planet by pollinating wildflowers and serving as a food source for many birds and small animals. However, they most frequently lay their eggs on the milkweed plant, which gardeners and farmers tend to weed out.
According to the trail’s website, the number of monarch butterflies is declining due to drought, removal of milkweed by gardeners and the increased use of pesticides.
The project started when Carter heard about the struggle of the butterflies and their threatened migration from the U.S. to Mexico.
She called her neighbor Annette Wise, who now leads the trail program, for advice on how to create a butterfly-friendly garden.
Upon hearing of Carter’s efforts, her neighbors began planting their own gardens to help the pollinators, and a “trail” developed throughout her hometown of Plains.
Now, there are over 1,000 gardens throughout the country. All of the gardens, privately and publicly owned, are free to visit.
The organization encourages people and associations around the country to join their efforts in creating butterfly-friendly gardens. There is a form on the website, rosalynncarterbutterflytrail.org, to join the trail.
While not a physical walking trail, those visiting Plains who would like to see the gardens can stop on Main Street to glimpse a map of the trail’s public locations.
For an online list of the public gardens in Plains, visit rosalynncarterbutterflytrail.org/plains-public-gardens.
— Hannah Elmore