Candice Miller, who once focused on preserving the Pentagon’s most deadly flying machines, has now transformed into an elected official working on the preservation of Monarch butterflies.

In her metamorphosis from congresswoman to Macomb County drain commissioner, Miller’s public service duties changed dramatically. As a 14-year House member, the Harrison Township Republican placed great emphasis on keeping F-16 fighters, and later A-10 jets, stationed at Macomb County’s Selfridge Air National Guard Base.


As county public works commissioner over the past two years, Miller’s focus has been on sinkholes, failing sewer pipes and neglected drains that flow into Lake St. Clair.

Last week, when it came time to announce a major drainage improvement plan in Sterling Heights, Miller pointed out that the project is focused on water quality but will also include the creation of a butterfly “flyway” as a side benefit. The declining population of the Monarchs will be somewhat reversed on a local basis by this county upgrade.

With the help of nearly $2 million in federal grants, this broad stream area in a densely populated residential/industrial area will benefit from more efficient water flow, reduced flooding risks, and the creation of a new “green zone” by planting more than 5,000 trees and bushes.

But Miller’s press release announcing the improvements also emphasized the butterfly effect.

According to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, the population of Eastern Monarchs, the type of butterfly commonly found in Michigan, has declined by 90 percent in recent decades, due to the use of pesticides and the loss of milkweed plants. The Monarch helps to pollinate flowers and other plants that support additional species of birds and butterflies.

“Although our principle focus is on water quality and improving our drains, we need to always be aware of the impact we have on our environment,” Miller said.