Target or Affiliated Species or Habitat
The Sand County Foundation is using the charisma of the monarch butterfly to galvanize the private sector, specifically farmers and private ROW managers, to support the conservation of monarch butterflies and other pollinators by planting milkweed and native nectar plants in the monarch flyway. The Sand County Foundation’s “ongoing partnership development includes agricultural producers, both row crop commodity producers and cattlemen; as well as agricultural companies, both input producers and management companies.
This partnership will build a network of habitat patches that, taken together, can help reinforce the globally unique eastern monarch butterfly migration corridor” (Sand County Foundation 2016a). The Sand County Foundation is also building unique partnerships with “private ROW managers (utilities, petroleum pipelines, railroads etc.) to implement conservation on rights-of-way,” fostering the potential for these companies to be “private-sector leaders of monarch recovery” (Sand County Foundation 2016b).
Research and monitoring efforts on 5–10 pilot sites in Wisconsin and other Midwestern states are planned to begin in spring of 2017. Sites will be assessed using the NRCS Monarch Wildlife Habitat Evaluation Guide, and monarch density at each site will be monitored through the Monarch Larva Monitoring Project (Holt 2016). The project is devoted to using the best available science, like the Habitat Evaluation Guide, and rigorous monitoring to best asses the outcomes of each pilot site. This project also includes an initiative to “Provide high school agriculture teachers and students (via FFA) with hands-on active learning opportunities related to on-farm monarch habitat” (Holt 2016).