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Midwest Region
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Partners Program biologist Meredeth Bryant planning for the next monarch migration to Michigan. Photo by Jim Hudgins/USFWS.

Partners Program biologist Meredeth Bryant planning for the next monarch migration to Michigan. Photo by Jim Hudgins/USFWS.

Partners Program Planning for the Return of Midwest Monarchs

In 2015, the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program (Partners Program) improved more than 9,750 acres of habitat for monarchs and other pollinators on private lands in the Midwest, but that doesn't mean Partners Program biologists are resting on their laurels. While monarch butterflies have migrated to Mexico and winter is now upon us, Midwest Region Partners Program biologists are focused on the next field season, planning how to do more and how to do it better!

“January is a time to reflect on completed projects, focus areas, seed mixes and planting techniques, and new information about the monarch,” notes Kelly Srigley-Werner, Partners Program State Coordinator in Missouri. “We can look back on what we've completed in Fiscal Year 2015, use the best information available, and adapt our restoration efforts in 2016 with an eye on achieving better results.”

“This is also a time to check in with our partners and build upon our coordinated effort to help the monarch and other grassland-dependent species,” adds Doug Helmers, Partners Program State Coordinator in Iowa. “Monarch butterflies were the topic of discussion at a recent Midwest Association of State Wildlife Agencies, Monarch Conservation Workshop in Iowa. We have the opportunity to coordinate with each state wildlife agency to build on the energy generated at that meeting.”

The winter months are also a time to complete the process needed to get projects on the ground in early spring. While each project begins with a conversation between an interested private landowner and a Partners Program biologist, there are many steps to be completed before a mix of native grasses, flowers and, especially, milkweeds are planted.

“We can take the project sites identified last year, complete our landowner agreement and the restoration design, identify appropriate seed mixes, work through the environmental compliance steps, follow contracting procedures to purchase materials and hire contractors, make sure site preparation is done, and ultimately get the seed in the ground,” says Meri Bryant, a Partners Program biologist in Michigan. “In the Partners Program we are able to work with landowners from beginning to end to ensure we complete high quality projects.”

To paraphrase from a different field of dreams built out of an Iowa cornfield, if you build it, they will come. Partner Program biologists throughout the Midwest are already planning those grassland/wildflower/milkweed fields of dreams, waiting for the next generation of monarchs to come home!

To learn more about the Partners Program please visit our website.

To learn more about the monarch butterfly please visit our website.
By Jim Hudgins
Michigan Private Lands Office

Last updated: January 6, 2016