Butterflies may be free, but saving them from extinction is not. In fact, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) has announced that it is issuing a first round of 22 grants totaling $3.3 million from its recently created Monarch Butterfly Conservation Fund (MBCF) designated to protect and maintain their habitats. Projects including the restoration of up to 33,000 acres throughout the country. States designated to receive approximately $250,000 in grant money include Texas, California, Arizona, Washington, North and South Dakota (where more than 1,000 acres of monarch habit are to be restored), Oklahoma, Nebraska, Kansas, Michigan and Nevada. In addition, the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation’s quest to create or improve 7,000 habitat acres along 2 of the butterfly’s major north-south migration routes to California and Mexico.
The federal funds will also be matched by more than $6.7 million in grantee contributions made possible through Monsanto Company (which has designated $4 million to the cause), U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and private funds from NFWF.
The population of the orange and black Monarch butterflies has plummeted from nearly 1 billion to fewer than 60 million during the past 2-decades, due in large part to the loss of milkweed, primary food source for monarch caterpillars (largely attributed to increased use of herbicides such as Monsanto’s Roundup in farmlands). As a result, the MBCF will focus on conservation needs to restore monarch butterflies to a more robust and healthy population, coordination building facilitate effective and efficient monarch conservation efforts at the state and regional levels.
“These important investments by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and its partners also support the long-term objectives of the Service’s Monarch Conservation Strategy,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe. “Together, we can ensure the monarch continues to be a familiar sight across the American landscape.”
“We are committed to helping monarch butterflies rebound and value this opportunity to partner with others to improve critical habitat,” stated Monsanto CEO and president Brett Begemann. “We believe that commitment to environmental sustainability and land productivity are compatible objectives. To feed a growing population, we need to use all of the management practices available to increase agricultural productivity and make more land available for monarchs, bees, birds and other wildlife.”
To learn more about the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s work on monarchs, visit nfwf.org/monarch.