In January, the monarch butterfly was designated by the Working Lands for Wildlife as a priority species in the United States. The species has seen a decline in population over the last two decades with a slight increase in population in recent years.
Plans to conserve the species and its habitat will take place in Oklahoma and nine other states in the midwest and Great Plains, which are in the monarch’s migration path and host breeding habitats.
The partnership between the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will provide financial assistance and instruction to landowners to create effective habitats for the pollinators with help from the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, Agricultural Conservation Easement Program, and Conservation Stewardship Program.
A focus for this initiative will be on planting and enhancing stands of milkweed and other high-value nectar plants for monarchs.
According to The Wildlife Society, “the monarch butterfly will join species whose habitat needs are representative of healthy, functioning ecosystems, and where conservation efforts benefit a wide variety of species.”
Conservation efforts will receive $20 million over five years and includes an additional partnership with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, National Wildlife Federation – of which the Conservation Coalition of Oklahoma is an affiliate – and the Mexican and Canadian governments to leverage resources and investments to support and implement conservation actions across the continent.
“Producers can make simple and inexpensive tweaks on working lands that provide monumental benefits to monarch butterflies and a variety of other insects and wildlife,” said NRCS Chief Jason Weller. “By adding the monarch to Working Lands for Wildlife, we can accelerate conservation for the species at the heart of its migration corridor.”
According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, producers interested in NRCS assistance should contact their local USDA service center to learn more. NRCS accepts landowner enrollment applications on a continuous basis. NRCS offers more than three dozen conservation practices that can provide benefits to monarchs as well as a variety of other pollinators.