Indianapolis, IN, December 12, 2018 – With a December 21 sign up deadline quickly approaching, Pheasants and Quail Forever and USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service are encouraging farmers to consider utilizing a federal program that provides funding to establish habitat for Monarch butterflies and other wildlife.
Jake Swafford, Coordinating Wildlife Biologist with Pheasants Forever, said the Monarch Butterfly Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) administered by NRCS, helps landowners establish milkweed and other nectar-rich plants that provide food for Monarchs and other pollinators, such as honey bees, that are vital to agriculture.
To accelerate conservation benefits to Monarch butterflies, Indiana is participating in a regional RCPP project which directs additional funds to these habitat efforts. This project focuses on encouraging landowners to establish monarch-friendly plantings as well as completing practices that assist with managing those beneficial areas by controlling brush and weeds, protecting them from pesticides, and improving grazing systems.
“I hope farmers who are interested in pollinators, especially monarch butterflies, will take the time to look at how it could fit into their operations,” said Jerry Raynor, Indiana NRCS State Conservationist, “There are many benefits pollinator habitats can provide, from increased crop yields to lower input costs to aesthetics.”
Swafford said establishing milkweed in this area is important because it is in the heart of the butterfly’s habitat and migration route. Milkweed also provides homes for beneficial insects that control the spread of destructive insects. And conservation practices that provide benefits for pollinators also help reduce erosion, increase soil health, control invasive species, provide quality forage for livestock and make agricultural operations more resilient and productive.
NRCS can assist with identifying the best locations for pollinator plantings, such as along field borders, in buffers near waterways or wetlands, pastures and in other suitable locations. Staff can also help farmers manage these types of plantings in pastures in ways that increase critical populations of nectar plants while also improving the health of their grazing land.
Funding for the Monarch Butterfly RCPP is available through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program. Applications are accepted on a continuous basis, but the cutoff for the next round of funding is December 21.