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Conservation Corner

Working Lands for Monarch Butterflies

Mon, December 18, 2017

NRCS helps landowners to protect the full spectrum of natural resources necessary for economically sustainable businesses, including monarch habitat.  Let NRCS develop a comprehensive, resource conservation plan for your operation and the monarch butterfly.

The Monarch is one of the most familiar butterflies in North America, known for its annual, multi-generational migration from overwintering sites in Central Mexico and coastal California to as far north as Canada.
Populations of the black-and-orange butterfly have decreased significantly over the past two decades, in part because of the decrease in native plants like milkweed—the sole source of food for monarch caterpillars.

Because monarch butterflies are always on the move, they need to have the right plants in bloom, at the right time, along their migration route.  NRCS has a list of plants that are known to be used by monarch butterflies.

Assistance Available

America’s farmers, ranchers and forest landowners are voluntarily combating the decline of monarchs by adding and maintaining for high-quality monarch habitat on their land.  Through the Farm Bill, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)  provides assistance to agricultural producers to help make conservation improvements that benefit the monarch while also increasing the productivity and resiliency on working lands.

NRCS Conservationists and wildlife biologists provide producers with technical assistance to develop a conservation plan as well as select which conservation practices are the best fit for their land.  The Environmental Quality Incentives Program EQIP, Conservation Stewardship Program, CSP,  and Agricultural Conservation Easement Program can provide financial assistance to help cover the cost of implementing those practices.

NRCS has a new brochure that covers the 10 main conservation practices that agricultural producers can use to help the monarch butterfly. The brochure is meant to serve as a “sell sheet” for producers interested in using conservation programs to help monarchs and other pollinators.

If you are interested in financial and technical assistance for your farm, visit your local USDA NRCS field office.