TEMPLE - The Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board (TSSWCB) is working in cooperation with 143 soil and water conservation districts (SWCDs) to enhance and restore Monarch butterfly habitat in Texas.
It is estimated that over the past 20 years, the Monarch population has declined from 1 billion to less than 60 million. One of the most prominent factors that contributed to the steep population decline is the loss of habitat and food sources.
The iconic orange and black insects are dependent on nectar producing vegetation to produce energy for their annual migration from Mexico to Canada. The Monarch caterpillar, on the other hand, depends on milkweed as a critical food source.
As a result of the decline in the Monarch butterfly population, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) have provided grant funds to the TSSWCB to assist in enhancing and restoring Monarch butterfly habitat.
The project will provide funding to develop conservation plans and plant pollinator-friendly plant species on 1,600 acres of rural Texas lands along the Monarch’s migratory pathway. The funds made available to farmers, ranchers, or private landowners will pay $375 per acre to cover seed cost, planting, and maintenance of the land on tracts of land between 1 and 30 acres. Entities such as schools or municipalities qualify for funding to develop a Monarch butterfly garden between 100 and 300 square feet.
The TSSWCB began accepting applications for the project on May 2, 2016. To date, 684 applications have been received to enhance and restore Monarch butterfly habitat. Of those applications, 583 were for rural plots of land between 1 and 30 acres, totaling a request of over 12,800 acres of habitat enhancement or restoration. The remaining 101 applications were for urban gardens. The current grant allows for enhancement or restoration of approximately 1,600 acres and installation of 30 Monarch butterfly gardens.
TSSWCB staff began notifying applicants of awards in June 2016. Currently, 68 individuals have received or are receiving technical assistance through TSSWCB regional offices or SWCDs. To date, 14 Monarch Habitat Conservation Plans have been completed and certified. Planting will begin on lands with certified plans beginning December 1, 2016.
If the TSSWCB acquires additional funding for enhancement and restoration of Monarch butterfly habitat, the agency will continue to fund applications in the order that they were received.
The views and conclusions contained in this news release are those of the TSSWCB’s and should not be interpreted as representing the opinions or policies of the U.S. Government or the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and its funding sources. Mention of trade names or commercial products does not constitute their endorsement by the U.S. Government or the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and its funding sources.
To learn more about enhancing and restoring Monarch butterfly habitat in Texas visit, https://tsswcb.texas.gov/programs/conservation-initiatives/monarch.