Vandalism at Jean Sweeney Open Space Park

Wikipedia -- A Monarch Butterfly

Vandalism at Jean Sweeney Open Space Park

On Friday, Sept. 3rd, the Monarch Butterfly Garden in the Jean Sweeney Open Space Park was hit by someone who decided to destroy the netting and bracing that was protecting the newly planted milkweed plants. The netting was needed to protect the young plants until they would be grown enough to support feeding the caterpillars that become Monarch butterflies.

The sad part is there were monarch caterpillars on some of the milkweed and there was already a chrysalis developing into an adult butterfly. They are now gone.

It appears that some group has been having parties in the Jean Sweeney Park on weekend nights. Last weekend we found broken glass in the plaza area which was cleaned up by our volunteer group.

We reported the vandalism to the Alameda Police Department (APD) and requested they visit the park on Friday and Saturday evenings to see if there are crowds that are misbehaving. We love it when people, especially young people, enjoy the park, and not all groups of youngsters are destructive, but we need people to help us monitor and report any bad actions to the police. The APD non-emergency number is (510) 337-8340.

The Monarch Butterfly Garden in the Jean Sweeney Park is a combined effort of the people of Alameda who have donated funding, the Alameda Recreation and Parks Department and the Jean Sweeney Open Space Park Fund.

“Known for its bright orange colors and its incredible annual migration, the migratory monarch butterfly is now classified as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN),” according to an article by Monica Echeverria for the World Wildlife Fund. “During the last three decades, the eastern migratory monarch butterfly population has decreased by more than 80%, according to WWF monitoring reports. One of main drivers in the decline of the migratory monarch’s population is the use of herbicides in the U.S., resulting in a loss of milkweeds, essential for monarchs’ reproduction.”

Small gardens like the one in Sweeney Park and in the back yards of Alameda homes are all helping the Monarch Butterfly survive while California plans planting milkweed in the wild so the butterfly can recover to past numbers. Help us keep the park special for everyone, especially the Monarch Butterfly.

Dorothy Freeman is a board member for the Jean Sweeney Open Space Park Fund.

Editor’s note: The Jean Sweeney Open Space Park Fund and the Alameda Recreation & Parks Department (ARPD) joined together to create a Monarch Butterfly Garden in the Jean Sweeney Open Space Park last summer.

ARPD provided the space in the park as well as updating the space with new soil, installing professional irrigation, and purchasing and planting the nectar plants needed for the monarch butterflies.

ARPD estimated the cost for these items plus staff time to be $20,000. The garden is located near the Central Self Storage between the playground and Sherman Street.