Feds launch $2M bid to save monarch butterflies

Feds launch $2M bid to save monarch butterflies
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The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) announced plans Monday to spend $2 million this fiscal year on conservation projects to save the declining monarch butterfly species. 

The agency is teaming up with the National Wildlife Federation and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to restore and enhance 200,000 acres of monarch butterfly habitat on private and public land. The population of the North American pollinator has declined by 90 percent since the 1990s, largely due to the destruction of milkweed — the primary food source of monarch caterpillars.

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“This isn’t just about our country,” said Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharSenate gears up for battle over witnesses in impeachment trial Booker says he will not make December debate stage Yang: 2020 rivals in Senate should be able to campaign amid impeachment MORE (D-Minn.). “It’s about a journey that the monarch butterfly takes often from Canada all the way down to Mexico. And it takes six generations.” 

The funds, FWS Director Dan Ashe, said will be used to restore and enhance habitats in three priority areas: the first generation's spring breeding habitats in Texas and Oklahoma, the summer breeding habitats in the Midwestern Corn Belt and the area west of the Rocky Mountains, which is key for the Pacific Coast populations. The FWS said it will support more than 750 schoolyard habitats and pollinator gardens and will work with its partners to expand the milkweed seed supply. 

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation will receive $1.2 million from the FWS to kickstart the Monarch Conservation Fund. The foundation hopes to leverage additional money from private and public donors.

Each year, Ashe said the monarch butterfly travels more than 3,000 miles and six generations from Mexico north to the U.S. and Canada and back again, an impressive feat for an insect that is one-third the weight of a dime. 

Though reversing the decline of the population won’t be easy, Ashe said it can be done. 

“We can make habitats for the monarch butterfly in backyards; in school yards; in city, county, state and national parks; in wildlife refuges; in national forests; along right of ways; along roadsides; basically in every tiny patch of open space we can make a habitat for the monarch butterfly,” he said. “And the magic is if we make the habitat, monarch butterflies will come.”