With the declining number of Monarch butterflies migrating north through the central United States, USDA is offering an incentive to agricultural producers in Iowa to help increase Monarch breeding habitat.
Iowa agricultural producers who want to increase habitat for Monarch butterflies on their land now have opportunities to receive funding for conservation practices that attract Monarchs. The Monarch butterfly population has declined in recent decades, and is currently undergoing a status review for potential federal listing.
Iowa is one of 10 states along the Monarch’s core migration route and primary breeding range. As part of the Monarch the effort is focusing on plantings of milkweed and Monarch nectaring forbs in wetlands and other marginal lands. This project is administered through USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).
“We aren’t asking Iowa farmers to take land out of crop production,” said State Biologist James Cronin, with NRCS in Des Moines. “We are asking rural landowners to consider odd areas or unproductive areas – big or small – that would make a difference to the population.”
USDA is a partner in the Iowa Monarch Conservation Consortium, which includes conservation organizations, state agencies, companies and Iowa State University, who are working together to research options to establish and maintain Monarch breeding habitat best suited for different types of land use scenarios in the state. “This is an ‘all hands on deck’ effort to start establishing habitat now,” said Cronin.
A sampling of eligible conservation practices through the project includes: brush management, conservation cover, field borders, and prescribed burning. The application deadline for the Monarch Butterfly Habitat Development Project is Aug. 5. Visit your local NRCS office to ask about developing a plan to address Monarch habitat or other resource concerns and financial assistance opportunities.
For more information, visit the Iowa NRCS website at www.ia.nrcs.usda.gov.