Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Monarch Butterfly Conservation Fund announces 22 grants to help revive species

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation on Monday announced "a first round of grants totaling $3.3 million from its recently launched Monarch Butterfly Conservation Fund. The 22 grants, which will be matched by more than $6.7 million in grantee contributions, will support the restoration of up to 33,000 acres of habitat in areas identified by experts as key to monarch recovery." Monarch numbers are estimated to have fallen by 90 percent in recent years after reaching 1 billion in 1996. Insecticides are largely blamed for the deaths.

The Obama administration, which in May unveiled a plan to attempt to save the species, has a goal to raise monarch numbers to 225 million by 2020, said Tom Tidwell, chief of the U.S. Forest Service, Whitney Forman-Cook reports for Agri-Pulse. He said that goal is achievable through public-private partnerships like the one announced on Monday. "Last winter, about 30 million monarchs overwintered in Mexico," and Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe suspects there will be more than 60 million this year, "proving that monarchs are 'responding' to habitat enhancement and restoration."

The Monarch Butterfly Conservation states that it focuses on three areas: "Habitat restoration to plant native milkweed for caterpillars and nectar plants for adults in both large, contiguous areas as well as in smaller patches, especially in edge habitat along the butterfly’s migration route; organizational coordination and capacity building to facilitate effective and efficient monarch conservation efforts at the state and regional levels; and native seed production and distribution to increase production and availability of seeds and plants essential to habitat restoration." (Read more)

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