Minnesota’s Three Rivers Park District is the newest MJV partner. The District has been actively managing native habitat for a wide variety of wildlife and invertebrates and using monarchs in their environmental education programs for over 40 years. In fact, some of the early monarch tags recovered in Mexico came from a nature center in Three Rivers Park District. The Monarch Joint Venture is glad to partner with the District’s longevity of experience in programming and wildlife management and bring new monarch resources and partners to the staff and visitors of the area.
With 2000 acres of prairie and counting, Three Rivers is able to provide high-quality habitat for monarchs. They are adding 500 acres to their current prairie habitat, with an additional 400 acres planned for the future. Each year The District spreads an average of 250 pounds of forb seed to enhance their existing prairies, including a diverse mix of milkweeds and important nectar flowers, such as blazing star (Liatris spp.). They are modifying their prescribed burn plans to be more insect friendly by adjusting burn locations, intervals between burns, and unit size. These practices will strengthen the healthy population of monarchs visiting District prairies. One particular site sees thousands of monarchs each August during the migration. The above photo was taken on August 26, 2015 at Crow-Hassan Park Reserve, Rogers, MN. It was common to see 2-3 butterflies on a single stalk of Liatris, but this one must have been particularly attractive!
The abundance of visitors at Three Rivers provides a huge opportunity to boost local awareness about monarchs and other pollinators. All Three Rivers Nature Centers are still involved with monarch citizen science and programming, and together they have 200,000 visitors per year, plus 180,000 other visitors attend additional programming. The annual visitation to the entire park system is over 10 million people per year.
Finally, Three Rivers has been engaging in partnerships to support their monarch conservation efforts. They work in partnership with university researchers, the Minnesota DNR and other NGO’s on monarch and insect focused projects. They are seeking additional support to expand these efforts.
The Monarch Joint Venture looks forward to growing the monarch conservation efforts and outreach in Minnesota with Three Rivers Park District!