Monday, August 15, 2016

Missourians for Monarchs say, show me the monarchs!

Midwest Regional Director, Tom Melius (back center)
with Missourians for Monarchs partners. Photo by Kate Miyamoto/USFWS.
On August 11, 2016, Midwest Regional Director, Tom Melius signed a memorandum of understanding with Missourians for Monarchs to further signify the Service’s commitment to save the monarch butterfly, and be on the fore-front with Missourians for Monarchs.

Missouri Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program State Coordinator, Kelly Srigely-Werner is working on the ground with communities and organizations to make a difference. In 2015, a state summit in Missouri of federal agencies, non-governmental organizations, businesses, landowners and others, united to bring greater focus to reverse the plight of the monarch butterfly and pollinators in Missouri. The group, Missourians for Monarchs, transformed from a grassroots organization to the moniker assigned to a statewide initiative – with an optimistic goal of restoring 300,000 acres of monarch habitat.

“The significance of this collaboration is monumental, as we continue to diligently work with our partners in conservation to save the monarch butterfly,” states Melius. “Missourians for Monarchs outreach will increase the value and importance of monarchs and pollinators on the landscape, including Missouri’s rich agricultural economy,” continues Melius.

In the past two decades in North America, monarch butterfly populations have declined significantly due to a variety of factors including habitat loss and lack of milkweed plants, the sole host plant used by the monarch during its egg and larval stages.

Why is Missouri a good candidate to help the monarch?

Many monarch butterfly scientists have emphasized a need to provide a north - south migration corridor of available habitat. This idea has been dubbed the Monarch Flyway and it roughly overlaps Interstate 35, which goes through Missouri. The Monarch Flyway extends from Lake Superior to the Mexico border at Laredo, Texas. Along this route, Missouri is the one of the monarchs main spring breeding habitat areas. The subsequent offspring or second brood will then colonize the remainder of the monarch’s eastern population breeding range. Depending on the length of the season, as dictated by weather, monarchs might produce two to four broods in Missouri. In the fall, millions of monarch butterflies utilize the same flyway to rest and pass through Missouri, as part of their spectacular journey south to the high-elevation oyamel fir forests in central Mexico where they overwinter.

Combining the efforts of multiple entities and individuals through awareness, education, volunteerism and non-regulatory, Missourians for Monarchs can help assist the state to become the “show me the monarch state” and the heart of monarch restoration. Additionally, over 90 percent of land is privately owned, which is critical for making on the ground change for monarch habitat restoration with private landowners, families, communities and the monarch butterfly.

Our mission is simple, we work with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit for the American people. The Service is proud to partners with the Missourians for Monarchs!