Target or Affiliated Species or Habitat
The Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation and a syndicate of public and private organizations, including the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, The Nature Conservancy, the National Fish and Wildlife Federation, and the Iowa Prairie Partner Program, have joined forces to enhance and create over 2,800 hectares (7,000 acres) of habitat along the monarch migration corridor. The project will blanket central Iowa with milkweed and native prairie plants. The restoration is concentrated around Interstate 35, a primary target area for monarch habitat restoration. The Loess Hills flyway in Western Iowa has also been indicated as a primary flyway for monarch habitat restoration, and this project will add or restore hectares of habitat for monarch and pollinators along the Loess Hills Flyway. The Conservation Corp of Iowa has played a major role in the on-the-ground planting efforts.
Plantings occur 2 to 4 counties wide on either side of I-35 and at least 1 county wide east of I-29 in the Loess Hills. Through various restoration activities, the project will create ten 32-hectare (80-acre) “core” pollinator sites, with an additional 125 “satellite” sites that serve to connect the “core” sites. The “satellite” sites are meant to be stepping stones for monarchs during their migration in the spring and fall. Identification of the “core” sites and “satellite” sites will be made in 2016, and many natural areas have promise to be categorized as a “satellite” or “core” site without much restoration investment, because milkweed and native nectar plants are already present (Edelen 2015).
This restoration project extends until 2017, but the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation Program and Planning Director stated (2016), the project is poised to expand across the state due to the early success of restoration efforts and identification of existing high-quality monarch habitat across Iowa.