Monarch Project Takes Flight

Posted: August 14, 2020

Farmers & Farm Bureau Promote Butterfly Conservation

One year after the Illinois Monarch Project Agriculture Action Plan was unveiled, Farm Bureau continues to highlight voluntary conservation efforts geared toward pollinators.

Illinois Farm Bureau (IFB) recently submitted data to the Illinois Monarch Project (IMP) for the United States Fish and Wildlife Service’s (USFWS) Monarch Conservation Database. The uploaded information included a wide variety of more than 200 efforts toward education and conservation of the Monarch butterfly in Illinois.

“IFB has been instrumental in setting up opportunities to educate, raise awareness and make additional research investments in Monarch butterfly conservation,” said IFB President Richard Guebert Jr. “These voluntary efforts have and will continue to inform our farmer members, landowners and the public about the importance of this species and its habitat.”

Information about U.S. Monarch habitat, along with population surveys, will be reviewed by federal environmental agencies ahead of the USFWS Endangered Species Act listing decision regarding the Monarch this winter. The most recent overwintering population of Monarch butterflies in Mexico decreased 53% from 2018-19 to 2019-20.

“The report IFB submitted helps provide the federal government with hard facts and data about what is going on across the state so that as they work to manage conservation efforts of the Monarch butterfly and they can make informed decisions,” said Lauren Lurkins, IFB director of environmental policy.

IFB has been a representative of the IMP technical steering committee and has led the agriculture working group since the project began in 2016.

The IFB Board has allocated more than $110,000 toward research of pollinator and Monarch butterfly habitat in agricultural landscapes. IFB has also connected researchers to farmers for in-field research, outreach and extension.

By 2038, the Illinois Monarch Project hopes to add 150 million new milkweed stems and nectar-rich sources needed by Monarch butterflies to the state’s landscape. To reach this goal, the organization recently launched a new website which provides resources to help people like farmers protect pollinator habitat.

The Illinois Monarch Project is made up of individuals and organizations throughout the state who are passionate about Monarch butterflies. Their website offers tools for farmers to help pollinators thrive.

Since milkweed is essential to Monarch butterflies, many of the practices outlined by the Illinois Monarch Project focus on maintaining these plants. On their website, farmers can find mowing and habitat installation guides, information about planting Monarch habitat in non-crop areas and more. These can be used to ensure Monarch butterflies and other pollinators have the habitat they need to survive throughout the growing season.

As a member of the Illinois Monarch Project, Illinois Farm Bureau (IFB) encourages farmers to use best management practices to establish and protect pollinator habitat.

“Pollinators are essential to our food system and the environment,” said Lurkins. “The resources provided by the Illinois Monarch Project can help our farmers continue to play an important role in supporting pollinator health.”

“Their website shows the big picture of conservation efforts across the state and it is encouraging to know our farmers are doing their part in this initiative,” she said.

Learn more about managing pollinator habitats on the Illinois Monarch Project website:  

Over the past 20 years, the eastern Monarch population has faced a significant decline in migratory habitat.

The Illinois Monarch Project collaborates with public and private partners, in addition to individuals across the state, to protect and enhance existing habitat and establish new habitat that supports Monarch butterflies and other pollinators.

The goal of the project is to add 150 million new milkweed stems and other nectar resources to the Illinois landscape by 2038.

Join fellow Illinoisans in fostering a culture of conservation that ensures future biodiversity and flourishing pollinator habitat across diverse urban and rural landscapes in Illinois.

Source: FarmWeek