St. Paul, MN – March 22, 2019 – With an April 19 signup deadline quickly approaching, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and Pheasants Forever reminds farmers and landowners of the many funding opportunities within the Environmental Quality Incentives Program to establish high-quality habitat for monarch butterflies, pollinators, and other wildlife.
Administered by NRCS, EQIP offers landowners an opportunity to receive a one-time incentive payment to install a wide array of conservation practices that can improve soil health and water quality, as well as create and improve wildlife habitat. Diverse, native habitat is critically important to sustaining healthy populations of wildlife species ranging from monarch butterflies to native bees to game species, such as pheasants and white-tailed deer. Examples of conservation activities available through EQIP include establishing native prairie, planting filter strips, installing contour buffer strips, edge-feathering along timber, planting trees and shrubs, and removing undesirable woody brush.
Specific to monarch butterflies, habitat containing milkweed and other native wildflowers continues to be especially important to the recovery of their population. In late January, the World Wildlife Fund reported an increase in the size of the area occupied by overwintering monarchs but cautioned that the population is still not out of danger. Monarch habitat efforts in this part of the country are especially important to the monarch population because the Midwest is in the center of the eastern monarch’s migration route and breeding grounds. EQIP offers a larger incentive payment for monarch habitat plantings which include milkweed and diverse, native wildflowers.
“If you’re a landowner interested in wildlife, including monarch butterflies, take a good look at the habitat and management opportunities within EQIP,” said Josh Divan, Coordinating Wildlife Biologist with Pheasants Forever. “I can’t think of another program that offers such a diversity of conservation practices paired with shorter-term maintenance agreements that can be utilized on both cropland and non-cropland.”
NRCS staff and Pheasants Forever biologists, through a partnership with NRCS, can assist landowners with their habitat project every step of the way. They regularly help landowners interested in creating habitat for pollinators, reducing erosion, improving soil health, controlling invasive species, providing quality forage for livestock, and making agricultural operations more resilient and productive.
Applications for EQIP are accepted on a continuous basis, but the cutoff for the next round of funding in Minnesota is April 19th. Funding is competitive and may not be available again until the fall of 2019.