Iowans are steadily promising to devote their farmland, roadsides and even urban properties to habitat for monarch butterflies. A 20-year program which Iowa State University launched five years ago is reporting significant progress, with 430-thousand acres of land already set aside. Nicole Shimp is a program specialist with ISU’s Iowa Monarch Conservation Consortium which is releasing its Monarch Conservation Effort Report.
Iowa and other Midwestern states provide a summer breeding ground for the butterflies and almost 40% of the overwintering monarchs in Mexico came through Iowa. Shimp says efforts in Iowa to preserve habitat may already be paying dividends.
Studies over the past two decades show the global monarch population has dropped 80-percent. The goal of the ISU program is to establish 790,000 habitat acres statewide in the next 25 years, which Shimp says is very attainable.
One of the program’s biggest gains is in acres of farmland. She’s hoping more and more Iowans will make the commitment to set up monarch habitat and register with the program.
That free app is called HabiTally. The Monarch Conservation Effort Report is online and shows habitat establishment in all 99 Iowa counties.