Bringing Back the Monarch
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Bringing Back the Monarch

October 9, 2019


If you plant them…they will come. The Natural Resources Conservation Service
is partnering with the Fish and Wildlife Service and other conservation partners to help private
landowners improve habitat for the Monarch butterfly in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. We are really fortunate in the Willamette
Valley to have an active partnership with the Fish and Wildlife Service, the Partners
for Fish and Wildlife program. They’re based out of the refuge complex, so they have access
to equipment and restoration expertise. These partners provide technical and financial
assistance to private landowners, to help them establish and maintain healthy butterfly
habitat, such as gumweed and milkweed. It’s been fantastic working with the N-R-C-S
and working with the different landowners, and working with a number of different partners
as well. And being able to bring a number of different things to the table, financially,
different expertise, and then all come together on these big projects. Monarch populations have declined over recent
decades due to degraded habitat. N-R-C-S and its partners are committed to restoring and
protecting Monarch habitat through strategic conservation. N-R-C-S works with voluntary
landowners to enroll private lands in long-term conservation easements. These easement programs
provide restoration services to enhance plant and wildlife diversity, while protecting private
lands for future generations. We’ve loved nature all our lives. One of
the things we wanted to do was to live more rurally. We had lived in suburbia in California
for a number of years. And so, when we found this piece of property, we thought wouldn’t
it be wonderful to live there and to feel the seasons more intimately. We wouldn’t
have done it as intimately if we hadn’t had the wildlife easement, where we could
have assistance in getting the biological diversity, and keeping it. Because it’s
been a maintenance also. Over the years, N-R-C-S and U.S. Fish and Wildlife, and other groups
have come through to help us continue to maintain and enhance the wildlife easement area. Being that the Willamette Valley is mostly
privately-owned, we have to be able to work on private land to conserve these species.
And that’s what makes the Wetland Reserve Program and N-R-C-S and the rest of its Farm
Bill programs so important. The Monarch butterfly is a great example of one of these species.
Because they’re a migratory species, they need a network of these lands with native
plant communities up and down the Willamette Valley to help them move through the area. If there’s no milkweed, there’s no place
for the Monarchs to lay their eggs. It was a little struggle getting the plants going.
But we kind of learned what that took, and then we started planting more sites, figuring
out what worked and what didn’t work. And so it’s been fun, just from a science standpoint,
seeing what happened. And then, when the Monarch appears, it’s a blessing. You just get really
excited. It’s been an amazing blessing. And what’s
really exciting is we’ve been able to share that with school children and groups of all
kinds. International groups have come from all different continents. We’ve been able
to share various seasons, all these different kinds of wildlife opportunities to view and
share. More than anything, I like being able to see
something that has come from being a monoculture of pasture grasses to something that we see
behind us, where you really see that change. And then everything that comes in and uses
that habitat. And being able to see that change overtime is extremely rewarding. Whether it’s
butterflies, birds—you name it. Being able to see that change is the most gratifying
part.

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