Conservation efforts target monarchs as ESA decision looms

E&E News

March 20, 2024

Judgment day approaches for the monarch butterfly.

Bound by a court settlement, the Fish and Wildlife Service is supposed to decide by early December whether the monarch warrants listing as threatened or endangered. Although the agency misses many Endangered Species Act deadlines, it appears determined to meet this one after several years of study.

“We wanted to make sure that we have all the best science available … and we wanted to make sure that we were able to gather all that information and make a quality decision,” said Nicole Alt, director of FWS’ Center for Pollinator Conservation.

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Pollinator grant applications now open in Minnesota

KFGO (Fargo, ND)

March 31, 2024

The Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources is now accepting grant applications for pollinator habitat projects across Minnesota. Ecologist Dan Shaw says the small-scale nature of the projects these grants will fund, like in communities and residential areas, is key to reversing declines in bee, butterfly and dragonfly populations.

He says, “Residents really can make a difference within their landscapes. We tell people to start small if you’re new to planting native plants and supporting pollinators, you can always expand in the future.”

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(Canada) Federal environmental minister pledges CAD 7.5 million to protect habitat

Montreal Gazette (Montreal, QC)

March 4, 2024

Steven Guilbeault, the federal minister of environment and climate change, was in Montreal on Monday to announce up to $7.5 million of new funding for projects to protect the habitat of species at risk across the country, including $1.5 million for 12 projects in Quebec.

“Nature is at the heart of our way of life and our main ally in the fight against climate change,” he told reporters at a news conference in La Fontaine Park. “Investing in nature also means investing in the fight against climate change because they are two sides of the same coin.”

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Edge habitats along roads and power lines may be key to conserving rare plants

February 1, 2024

Managing forest edge habitats to maintain a gradient of canopy cover and plant density could be key to conserving some threatened native plant species such as wild lupine, according to Penn State researchers.

Edge habitats created by natural or human-caused disturbances, including corridors along roadways and utility rights-of-way, provide prime opportunities for encouraging the establishment and reproduction of rare native plants, the researchers reported in a new study published in Plant Ecology.

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States give pollinators pit stops in rights-of-way

Bay Journal (Mayo, MD)

November 21, 2023

Here’s an item to add to your bingo card for long car drives: “no-mow” signs.

More highways and byways across the region are posting them next to strips of land — in medians, at intersections and along shoulders and curbs — as part of reduced mowing practices being integrated into their culture.

Mowing less frequently or avoiding it all together during certain times of year helps to leave habitat for native and pollinator-friendly plants, such as milkweed, when migrating monarchs and other wildlife need them most. Less mowing also means less pollution from gas-powered mowers, and there are financial incentives, too. 

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St. Louis County (MN) joins Monarch CCAA

(St. Louis) County joins national monarch protection agreement

October 4, 2023

The Timberjay (Northern St. Louis County, MN)

In a win-win Tuesday for monarch butterflies and St. Louis County, the board of commissioners approved an agreement that will provide more butterfly habitat along the county’s roadways while protecting future county operations should the monarch be designated as endangered.

Read more on the Timberjay website.

Roadside Initiatives Helping to Counter Biodiversity Loss

December 15, 2022

With 8 billion people now sharing our globe, the demands on land and water have never been greater. Biodiversity loss is a growing concern worldwide as highlighted by the recent global conferences on climate change (COP27) and biodiversity (COP15). In connection, the habitats and species, including at-risk insect pollinators, that make up biodiversity are an increasing focus of land management.

In June this year, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced the establishment of a new Center for Pollinator Conservation. This announcement signaled the continuing importance that pollinators have across the nation. Pollinators are facing severe declines in population around the world, including throughout North America with bee populations decline being the most notable. Since 2017, the rusty patched bumble bee (Bombus affinis) has been listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act and there are several other bumble bees that are either petitioned for federal listing consideration or undergoing status assessments for possible future listings.

Read the rest of the article here.


Some see dead space on the side of the road. These groups see a potential haven for wildlife.

CNN (Cambridge, UK)

November 14, 2022

This roundabout would have been easily overlooked just a few months ago – wedged between busy traffic lanes, there wasn’t much growing apart from bog-standard grass. But local residents who drove past every day thought it had potential.

Now, it’s been transformed into a wildflower meadow, buzzing with insect life and blooming with color.

Reinvigorating those grassy edges of streets and highways – often called road verges or medians – is the bread and butter of local conservation group On The Verge Cambridge, which stepped in to help re-wild the traffic circle as they work toward boosting biodiversity in the local area through planting.

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Here’s how conservation experts are hoping to increase Iowa’s monarch butterfly population

WOI-DT/ (Ames, IA)

October 26, 2022

Iowa has been steadily adding new habitat for monarch butterflies over the past couple of years.

The Iowa Monarch Conservation Consortium recently released a report, highlighting the progress of monarch habitat establishment in all 99 counties.

So far, they are well on their way to meeting their goal.

“The decline is really associated with the loss of milkweed in the Midwest,” said Dr. Kelsey Fisher with Iowa State University.

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Middle Tennessee Electric, Tennessee Environmental Council breaking ground on pollinator habitat

WGNS Radio (Murfreesboro, TN)

Nov. 10, 2022

Middle Tennessee Electric (MTE) and Tennessee Environmental Council (TEC) are partnering to establish a one-acre native pollinator habitat at MTE’s solar field in College Grove. A groundbreaking ceremony will be held Monday, Nov. 14, at noon.

MTE commissioned its 1-megawatt solar field in College Grove, TN in November of 2016. It allows MTE members to participate in renewable energy programs without the expense and effort needed to build their own solar PV systems.

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