Partnering to conserve the monarch butterfly migration

Iowa Partnership Unveils State Monarch Conservation Strategy

As the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service conducts their Species Status Assessment for monarchs to determine whether or not to list them under the Endangered Species Act, many states are organizing to take the necessary steps to reverse monarch habitat and population declines. States have convened stakeholder groups in a series of summits or working groups to discuss monarch conservation needs that they can help to address, and to develop a plan that helps track those efforts and hold the collaboration accountable for the goals they set forth for their state. Iowa is an important state for monarch conservation, and their efforts provide a great statewide model for monarch conservation planning and implementation. They recently released the Iowa Monarch Conservation Strategy. The following post is modified from a press release announcing the strategy.

 

The Iowa Monarch Conservation Consortium released a statewide strategy this week to support monarch butterfly recovery in Iowa and North America, available at www.iowamonarchs.info.

The consortium’s strategy guides the implementation and documentation of a voluntary, statewide effort to support monarchs based on the best available science. The consortium is a diverse group of more than 30 collaborators, including agricultural and conservation organizations, agribusiness and utility companies, county associations, universities and state and federal agencies.

The science-based strategy fosters habitat improvements in rural landscapes that

  • coincide with agricultural production;
  • are sufficient in scale to support improved monarch breeding success;
  • and complement other conservation programs.

The Iowa Monarch Conservation Strategy lays the foundation for adoption of conservation practices. Immediate conservation measures include using resources in farm bill programs to establish monarch breeding habitat; volunteering to establish monarch habitat on farms in consortium-sponsored demonstration projects; using monarch-friendly weed management in ditches, roadsides and other rights-of-way; and establishing monarch waystations with native nectar plants and milkweeds in home and community gardens.

A recent report from Mexico found the monarch butterfly population at overwintering sites dropped 27 percent this year. Over the past two decades, the monarch population has declined by approximately 80 percent.

Roughly 40 percent of all monarch butterflies that overwinter in Mexico are estimated to come from Iowa and neighboring Midwestern states. Expanding monarch habitat in Iowa will play a major role in the recovery of the species.

“We didn’t get to this point overnight, and we aren’t going to improve the population overnight. But we have a really strong group across many different areas of expertise working together to improve the outlook for the monarch in Iowa and beyond,” said Chuck Gipp, Director of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

“This strategy is critical to rally Iowa agriculture, landowners and citizens to continue to make progress in restoring monarch habitat,” said Wendy Wintersteen, endowed dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Iowa State University. “Our research, extension and outreach programs, in coordination with regional and national efforts, ensures these conservation measures are based on the best available scientific knowledge.”

The Iowa Monarch Conservation Consortium formed in 2015 in response to monarch population declines. More information about consortium members, partners and the strategy is available at www.iowamonarchs.info.

 

For more information about the Iowa State Monarch Conservation Strategy, contact:

Brian Meyer, Agriculture and Life Sciences Communications Service, (515) 294-0706, bmeyer@iastate.edu

Steve Bradbury, Entomology, spbrad@iastate.edu

 

The Monarch Joint Venture is a national partnership of federal and state agencies, non-governmental organizations, and academic programs working together to conserve the monarch butterfly migration. The content in this article does not necessarily reflect the positions of all Monarch Joint Venture partners. The original news release and related photos are available at http://www.cals.iastate.edu/news/.

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