$3.3 million awarded by national wildlife group to deal with decline of monarchs

A national wildlife group gave $3.3 million in grants on Monday in order to help tackle the alarming decline of monarch butterflies. The group hopes that this initial push by it will assist in restoring up to 33,000 acres of habitat for monarch butterflies.

The 22 grants that the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation announced, would be matched by over $6.7 million from the recipients, in over a dozen states and among 115 applicants for finances in the conservation effort that was launched earlier this year.

According to Lila Helms, the foundation’s executive vice president of external affairs, “We were delighted to have drawn such a large number of excellent proposals”. The grants “will fund on-the-ground projects that will quickly contribute to a healthier, more sustainable monarch population”, Helms added.

Many of the biggest grants, approximately $250,000 each, are for efforts to support grasslands and other habitat in main monarch butterfly migration corridors.

It seems that one project restores over 1,000 acres of monarch habitat in the Dakotas, whereas another consists of the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation’s mission to come up with or improve 7,000 habitat acres along two major north-south migration routes of the butterfly.

Monday’s grant has been given to states like Arizona, Illinois, California, Iowa, Michigan, Kansas, Missouri, North Dakota, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, South Dakota, and Washington.

This year, approximately $1.2 million of the grant money has come from St. Louis-based agribusiness Monsanto Co., manufacturer of the Roundup weed killer that critics have in part held responsible for knocking out of habitat of monarch butterflies.

“The Monarch populations have tanked. I used to see a dozen in my yard, now I see two or three,” Enright said. “The real problem is that edge-to-edge farming has eliminated their habitat.”
“We have tweaked our mixtures going in on private land so we have a large number of nectar and host plants,” Burris said.