PRATT – Monarch butterfly populations are on the decline and in just two short years, these winged wonders could be listed as a threatened or endangered species by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). In an effort to help bolster monarch habitat, and subsequently monarch numbers, agencies and organizations across the state came together June 7-8 for a two-day summit in Topeka to formulate a plan.
The Kansas Monarch Conservation Plan will be the collaborative effort of many agencies and organizations around the state, including the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism; Kansas Department of Agriculture, Kansas Department of Transportation, Midwest Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, and many other agricultural and conservation-based organizations. The plan is expected to largely address critical monarch habitat – both areas that have been lost or need improvement, as well as areas that could serve as new habitat.
Once a statewide plan is agreed upon, those ideas will then be incorporated into a larger plan derived from as many as 16 other states in the Midwest region. The resulting comprehensive plan will then be presented to the USFWS.
On the state level, one such approach currently under consideration is the possibility of incorporating milkweed – a plant necessary for monarch production – into the seed mixes used by the Kansas Department of Transportation along roadways.