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Restoring habitat for any species is complicated and requires a great deal of thought and lots of research to establish best practices. The following “plan” and set of guidelines was issued last Friday (13 January) under the title
A collaboration of the
Natural Resources Conservation Service and the
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
This report is long and complicated. It’s 107 pages! The message is mostly tailored to agency personnel and land managers rather than the general public. That said, it is intended to show what the respective agencies are committed to doing to sustain the monarch migration. Frankly, the document needs an executive summary.
I haven’t read the entire document but skimming various sections suggest that some of the take home messages should be:
1) plant regionally appropriate native milkweeds wherever possible within what might be loosely called the milkweed/monarch corridor – although they don’t use that term.
2) follow best practices for restoration in your area
3) add nectar plants to restoration sites in seed mixes or as plugs
4) maintain restored sites
5) develop partnerships
6) minimize the use of insecticides and limit the use of herbicides as much as possible (it’s common to use herbicides in the first step of restoration to eliminate introduced and sometime invasive species and other vegetation that might interfere with the establishment of the desired seedlings or plugs).
7) monitor plantings to establish their success
8) monitor the use of restored sites by monarchs and pollinators (I didn’t see specific protocols for that topic in this doc but that will be a goal of other programs).
This report is based on long discussions and research that establishes the background for how monarchs got to the point where we have to focus on habitat restoration to sustain the migration. The text contains numerous sections dealing what is known about monarch biology, population dynamics, climate influences and habitat needs. An extensive bibliography is provided at the end of the text.
Read the full report here:
Monarch Butterfly Conference Report 2016 (107-page PDF, 10MB)