By Dana Schweitzer
Iowa landowners who want to be part of the buzz surrounding pollinators can learn more about establishing monarch butterfly and other pollinator habitat on their land at an upcoming series of workshops across the state.
If you have questions about adding high-diversity habitat for monarchs and other pollinators to your land, these workshops will provide information to begin a project.
The workshops are organized and delivered by personnel from Pheasants Forever, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, Iowa State University Extension and other Iowa Monarch Conservation Consortium partners. Topics will include best management practices for pollinator habitat and a summary of available cost-share programs.
The schedule of workshops is as follows:
• Feb. 27, 6:30 to 8 p.m., ISU Extension and Outreach Mitchell County office, Osage
• Feb. 28, 6 to 7:30 p.m., County Conservation Bureau office, Maquoketa
• Feb. 28, 6 to 7 p.m., Northwest Iowa Community College, Sheldon
• March 1, 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., ISU Extension and Outreach Bremer County office, Tripoli
• March 1, 6 to 7:30 p.m., ISU Extension and Outreach Montgomery County office, Red Oak
The mission of the Iowa Monarch Conservation Consortium is to enhance monarch reproduction and survival through coordinated efforts of farmers, private citizens and their organizations. Monarch populations have declined markedly over the past 20 years due to a loss of grassland habitat and the elimination of native milkweeds. To address this issue, farm bill conservation programs can provide financial and technical assistance to Iowa landowners to implement practices that provide breeding and foraging habitat that is critical to monarchs and other pollinators.
“Pheasants Forever is excited to collaborate with the Iowa Monarch Conservation Consortium and the NRCS to increase awareness of best management practices and conservation programs for monarch habitat in Iowa,” says Josh Divan, monarch coordinating biologist with Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever.
Deadlines to apply for funding
Iowa NRCS has two conservation program opportunities earmarked for landowners to implement monarch habitat practices: the Conservation Stewardship Program and the Environmental Quality Incentives Program. The next funding cutoff deadline for CSP is March 2 and for EQIP is March 16.
NRCS is also working with a group of conservation partners to support a Regional Conservation Partnership Program project called “Improving Working Lands for Monarch Butterflies.” This project uses both CSP and EQIP funds. Iowa is one of eight participating states.
Additional practices such as grassed waterways, prescribed grazing and conservation crop rotations are included as eligible practices in the project.
To attend a workshop, contact a USDA Service Center or Extension office in the host county. If unable to attend a workshop, call or visit your local NRCS office for information about ways to provide habitat for monarchs and other pollinators on your land, or go online to ia.nrcs.usda.gov.
Schweitzer is program coordinator for the Iowa Monarch Conservation Consortium at Iowa State University.