Indianapolis, IN, December 11, 2018 – With a December 21 sign up deadline approaching, Pheasants and Quail Forever and the 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 USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (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 that producers 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.
Swafford said pollinator plantings can be placed along field borders, in buffers around waterways or wetlands, in pastures, and in other suitable locations. NRCS also can help producers manage their pastures in ways that increase critical populations of milkweed and nectar plants while also improving the health of their rangelands.
NRCS accepts applications on a continuous basis, but only applications filed by December 21 are eligible for the next round of funding through the Improving Working Lands for Monarch Butterflies RCPP.
For more information about EQIP and other technical and financial assistance available through Indiana NRCS conservation programs, visit http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/in/programs/financial/eqip/ or contact your county’s District Conservationist Debbie Knepp at (574) 936-2024 Ext. 4.