In the last 20 years, monarch butterfly populations in the U.S. have declined by more than 70 percent due to habitat loss, pesticide use, climate change, and other threats. The decrease in the population is so significant that the monarch is being considered for federal protection under the Endangered Species Act. In response to this dramatic decline, the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin (NRF) has become a partner of the Monarch Joint Venture (MJV), a partnership of nearly 60 organizations working together to conserve, protect, and promote the monarch and its habitat throughout the country.
Wisconsin has been identified as a key location in monarch conservation. Each spring, the offspring of the monarchs overwintering in Mexico return to Wisconsin and other northern locations to breed and lay eggs. In the fall, the migratory generation of monarchs from the upper Midwest make the full journey south to the overwintering grounds in Mexico, nearly 2,000 miles. Destruction of milkweed and nectar plants in key migratory and breeding areas, like Wisconsin, factors largely in the decline of the eastern monarch population.
“Habitat in Wisconsin is a critical link in the monarch lifecycle, so we believe it is our responsibility to do what we can to restore habitat and educate people in Wisconsin on how they can help,” said Caitlin Williamson, director of conservation programs at the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin.
As part of the Monarch Joint Venture, NRF will connect and engage its network of conservationists and partners in local, regional, and national monarch conservation efforts. NRF will offer grants for projects focused on monarch conservation and habitat restoration. NRF will also share information on how Wisconsinites can get involved through volunteering or making donations to support critical projects. Additionally NRF is offering hands-on education through monarch-focused Field Trips that engage Wisconsinites in some key conservation projects like monarch tagging and habitat restoration.
“By partnering with the Monarch Joint Venture, we are committing to conserving and creating monarch habitat throughout the state, while educating the public on the important environmental roles played by monarchs and other pollinators,” said Williamson.
“We are excited to welcome the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin to the MJV,” said Wendy Caldwell, MJV Coordinator. “Their outstanding leadership in guiding and supporting conservation in Wisconsin will help drive awareness and creation of habitat in a very important area."
Visit NRF’s website and to learn more about their work.
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. Header photo by Wendy Caldwell.