Butterfly Habitat Opens In Lily Dale

A butterfly habitat, funded through a grant from the Northern Chautauqua Community Foundation, opened in Lily Dale on Friday. P-J photo by Jordan W. Patterson

LILY DALE — A few months ago, the members of the Lily Dale Environmental Committee applied for a $10,000 grant from the Northern Chautauqua Community Foundation. The end goal for the committee was to bring a butterfly habitat to Lily Dale.

“That was where the process started; we went for the whole enchilada,” Committee Chairman Foundation Bob Reuther said. “There were a lot of smaller grants. We said, ‘Why not?'”

In the center of Lily Dale on Friday, the community gathered for the opening and dedication of the Lily Dale Community Butterfly Habitat.

“We have a natural interest in butterflies, birds, bees, the whole nine yards,” Reuther said. “The monarchs as you know are endangered. There’s a big push nationwide to help restore monarch habitats.”

Inside the habitat are various native plants with the intention to attract butterflies back to the area. A lot of the perennial plants are host plants for baby caterpillars for the monarchs.

Lily Dale also became the second community in New York state to be certified by the National Wildlife Federation. That certification was presented at the Butterfly Habitat, as well. “It was not an easy thing to do,” Reuther said of the certification. “There are only two, and we’re one of them.”

Normally a two-year process, according to Reuther, Lily Dale became certified within eight months because the community had already completed many of the requirements.

There were a few speakers who came to speak at the ribbon cutting. From the Cassadaga Job Corps was Adam Dolce and from the National Wildlife Federation was Patrick Fitzgerald.

Diane Hannum represented the Northern Chautauqua Community Foundation and Eileen Dunn spoke, as well.

Connie Dutcher, a member of the Lily Dale Environmental Committee, did the honor of committing the ribbon on the entrance of the habitat.

“To me, it’s very exciting,” Dutcher said.

She then told the story of how when the Job Corps visited — which did a lot of work on the butterfly habitat — the very first butterfly landed on one of the representatives. Dutcher made mention that was over 200 milkweed plants.

According to Dutcher, milkweed plants are the only plant that the monarch can successfully feed caterpillars with.

Dutcher admitted that with the butterfly habitat, there will be a lot of work involved with maintaining the plants and the entire area. However, Dutcher wasn’t worried about that in the least.

“Gardening; that’s best thing you can do as far as I’m concerned,” Dutcher said.

Among the community members at the ceremony were also Tibetan monks, who were invited for Lily Dale’s opening weekend. Reuther inquired if the monks would bless the service and they agreed. The nine monks performed for the community and the habitat was open.