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Conservation Corner

Monarch Butterfly Habitat Development Project

Wed, January 23, 2019

USDA launched an initiative a few years ago to provide the precise food, plants, and habitat for Monarch Butterflies. Nationwide the Natural Resources Conservation Service, or NRCS, will invest millions in this effort. 

Illinois is one of nine states that make up the Monarch’s migration route from central Mexico to Canada.  Illinois lies at the heart of their journey, making efforts here especially important. 

The Problem:

The key habitat and plant species that Monarch Butterflies require for food and reproduction have gradually disappeared from the landscape.  Here in Illinois, our prime soils and prime farmland are covered with crops—- corn, soybeans, and wheat.  But these crops mean nothing if we don’t leave room for special habitat gaps, creating diverse areas for Monarchs and other pollinator species so crucial to Ag production.

If every landowner, every farmer, every city, community, homeowner, school, and business dedicated some part of their land to the effort and planted a native milkweed species, we could create a more diverse landscape.  We can create a landscape where Monarchs can thrive.

The Program:

The Monarch Butterfly Habitat Development Project will use funds from NRCS’s Environmental Quality Incentives Program, EQIP.  With EQIP and NRCS, landowners can access both financial and technical assistance to voluntarily put conservation practices on the ground that support native milkweed plants and other early- to late-blooming nectar plants.  NRCS also has funds available to use on land already in the conservation easement program known as Wetland Reserve Easement or WRE.  These are lands already set aside for wildlife that can be further enhanced to provide for the specific needs of Monarch Butterflies.

  The Conservation Stewardship Program CSP is another federal program that can provide landowners with new options that support the creation of enhancements for Monarch habitat.

To learn more:
If you’d like to know more about the Illinois NRCS Monarch Butterfly Habitat Development Project or learn about other practices or plant species that can support pollinator habitat, contact your local NRCS office at your local USDA Service Center.

Resources and information are also available online at

Program applications are accepted on a continuous basis, however, NRCS establishes submission deadline dates for evaluation, ranking, and approval of eligible applications.  Right now, is a good time to start planning for Monarch Butterfly Habitat.