A butterfly sanctuary takes shape in Yukon

Yukon woman creates ‘Monarch Waystation’ wildlife habitat at Kimbell Park

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Yukon Master Gardener Peggy Turner (left) and Yukon Parks & Recreation Director Jan Scott stand beside the new Monarch butterfly sanctuary that Turner created at Kimbell Park, 525 S Seventh. This certified U.S. wildlife habitat was the United States’ 28,154th “Monarch Waystation”. (Photo by Conrad Dudderar)

By Conrad Dudderar
Senior Staff Writer

A Yukon park is now home to a sanctuary for the “king of butterflies.”

A local master gardener and volunteer dedicated her time and talents earlier this year to create a Monarch Waystation wildlife habitat at Kimbell Park, 525 S Seventh.

In early May, Yukon’s Peggy Turner finished Yukon’s butterfly garden – which features about 30 plant varieties designed to bloom from spring through fall.

Primary goals of Turner’s ambitious project were to protect Monarch butterflies and provide the City of Yukon with its own sanctuary.

Turner, a longtime Yukon resident who lives near Kimbell Park, is an Oklahoma County master gardener who served on the Yukon Park Board from 2002-08.

As the registered dietician prepared to retire a year ago, she began seeking a project to make valuable use of her time and help her community.

In June 2019, Turner initially asked Yukon Parks & Recreation Director Jan Scott about creating a butterfly garden at the Yukon park.

Previous Yukon mayors signed a pledge that the City of Yukon – as a member of the National Wildlife Federation – would provide refuge to protect Monarch butterflies.

Turner again approached Scott – who she knew though her six-year stint on the park board – this February during the annual Yukon Chocolate Festival.

“I asked Jan, ‘That circle there in the park, can I have it?’,” Turner related. “She said ‘yes’.”

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‘ONE-PERSON SHOW’

Turner then got to work planning and designing a new butterfly sanctuary in the middle of Kimbell Park.

“The original idea was that the Yukon Garden Club and other Master Gardeners could help,” she said. “And then the (COVID-19) pandemic struck.

“So, it became a one-person show, with the City’s help.”

City of Yukon parks maintenance personnel cleaned up the bed from the previous year and provided fertilizer.

Turner spent about 24 hours over four days planting this unique, colorful garden.

Yukon city personnel offered hoses for irrigation, mulched the entire bed and provided pavers for a path in the middle.

Yukon’s “Monarch Waystation” features hundreds of plants, many donated by Canadian Valley Technology Center and others funded by Yukon Friends of the Park. Free milkweed was procured from Monarchwatch.org

After Yukon’s butterfly sanctuary was finished, it was certified as a wildlife habitat by Monarchwatch.org and the National Wildlife Federation.

“As of May 17, there were 28,293 waystations in the United States,” Turner reported. “And Yukon was 28,154.”

When she’s out maintaining Kimbell Park’s butterfly sanctuary, Turner will hear from walkers commending her for this “beautiful garden.”

During a recent tour, Yukon Parks & Recreation’s longtime director said the butterfly garden was “the prettiest I’ve seen” and it starts to branch out.

Scott envisions having school groups come to Yukon’s certified Monarch Waystation wildlife habitat for classes and other educational opportunities.

Meanwhile, Turner plans to present a Monarch Waystation class starting this fall at the Myriad Botanical Gardens in Oklahoma City.