Target or Affiliated Species or Habitat
The Nature Conservancy’s River Fork Ranch has been involved in monarch conservation for several years, so it was no surprise when it received funds from the USFWS to enhance its conservation efforts in 2015 and beyond. The River Fork Ranch Habitat Restoration project will leverage its funding to enhance 2.4 hectares (6 acres) of monarch habitat on the Carson River watershed. Much of the money will go toward purchasing native seed from local partner Comstock Seed.
The rest will be used to host education and outreach workshops where groups come to the ranch and engage in monarch habitat restoration coupled with environmental education. “We get the work done, but we are teaching as we are doing. We provide a context for the learning,” says Carson River Project Director Duane Petite (2016), who leads the majority of restoration efforts on the ranch. Petite, the only Nature Conservancy employee at the River Fork Ranch, says that volunteers are invaluable. “Volunteers are as important as donors; actually, I consider them donors. While they are not donating money, they are donating their time” (Petite 2016).
Volunteers are imperative to successful habitat restoration, but the River Fork Ranch also provides a “place-based” opportunity for experiential education during restoration projects. Petite takes full advantage of this and draws in a diverse array of volunteers, like employees from GE, Starbucks, and Harley Davidson, as well as incarcerated juveniles. The habitat restoration at River Fork Ranch won’t only result in the establishment of quality monarch habitat, but it will also expand the demographic interested in conservation, through service learning opportunities (Petite 2016).