Missouri Leads Nation

Missouri leads the nation with a concerted effort to increase monarch habitat, according to Brent Vandeloecht, Mo. Dept of Conservation and the Chairman for the Collaborative Working Group within Missourians for Monarchs Collaborative chairman.

Monarch population numbers have decreased 90% in the last 20 years. The monarch is still under consideration for a listing on US Fish and Wildlife’s Endangered Species list.

 Missouri’s Monarch and Pollinator Conservation plan set a 20 year goal of adding 385,000 acres in pollinator habitat, or 19,000 acres a year. As of 2017, Missouri had reached 304,862 acres of new habitat and/or land newly managed to favor monarchs. Newly managed land for monarchs may include changes in mowing timing, the addition of prescribed burning, or other practices intended to improve habitat for monarch butterflies and other species.

Missouri’s Monarch and Pollinator Conservation plan set a 20 year goal of adding 385,000 acres in pollinator habitat, or 19,000 acres a year. As of 2017, Missouri had reached 304,862 acres of new habitat and/or land newly managed to favor monarchs. Newly managed land for monarchs may include changes in mowing timing, the addition of prescribed burning, or other practices intended to improve habitat for monarch butterflies and other species.

Nationwide, Missouri is second only to Texas regarding total monarch efforts recorded in the Monarch Conservation database.

During the same period, there has been a decrease in Conservation Reserve Program lands. The Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) is a land conservation program administered by the Farm Service Agency. In exchange for a yearly rental payment, farmers enrolled in the program agree to remove environmentally sensitive land from agricultural production and plant species that will improve environmental health and quality. Contracts for land enrolled in CRP are 10-15 years in length. The long-term goal of the program is to re-establish valuable land cover to help improve water quality, prevent soil erosion and reduce loss of wildlife habitat.

Vandeloecht said the lower CRP land numbers are having an impact on available pollinator habitat.

If the monarch does get listed as endangered, several attendees were concerned about how that will impact how they manage their property and agreed it was better for the landowners to continue the effort to protect and manage for monarch/pollinators.

Since milkweed populations in new plantings or newly managed areas won’t develop for another three to four years, more research and monitoring of milkweed densities will be needed to determine progress toward Missouri’s state goal of 77 million additional milkweed stems by 2036.

In addition, continued management, such as prescribed burning and invasive species control, must take place on a regular basis to maintain and encourage necessary expansion of the milkweed populations on reported acres.

Missourians for Monarchs is a collaborative of citizens, conservation and agricultural organizations, government agencies, utilities and agribusinesses committed to pollinator conservation. The organization formed in 2015 as a statewide initiative to address pollinator preservation and now has 41 agency members including Missouri State Beekeepers Association and University of Missouri Extension.

Missouri’s strategy for monarch butterfly conservation focuses on expanding and creating milkweed and nectar plant habitat necessary to support robust breeding and successful migration throughout the state. The Missouri Monarch and Pollinator Conservation Plan combines the efforts of multiple entities through awareness, education, volunteerism and non-regulatory, voluntary action.Nationwide, the US Fish and Wildlife Service has started the National Seed Strategy to collect and identify seeds that are then planted in the correct ecosystem corridor. In other words, monarchs depend on plants that may be unique to an area so the seeds of those plants are the ones that should be re-planted in the same area.

Visit https://moformonarchs.org to view the Collaborative’s best management practices for monarchs.

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