This fall many of you have stepped up to help the declining numbers of Monarch Butterflies by sending in milkweed seed. You can still help and collect more seed this season to support our regional effort to restore Milkweed for Monarchs. Chris Kirkpatrick provides this update.Earlier this year we asked TPE members, supporters, and volunteers to collect milkweed seed to be used in efforts to increase habitat for monarch butterflies. The response has been rather amazing. From members sending in their backyard seed pods, to people collecting pounds of seed, it has been amazing to see what the community can do together to help give monarchs a better chance of success in the years to come.
There is still time for more picking! There are patches of milkweed out there that can be picked and added to the final tally for this year's Milkweed Roundup. All you need to do is contact TPE staff by phone (608) 638-1873, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or simply stopping by our office at 110 S. Main St. in downtown Viroqua, WI. and let us know what type of milkweed you collected and where you picked it from. We can still use your seed if we receive it by the end of October. The next several weeks will likely be the most important time to get the final pods collected.
Remember each pound of milkweed seed can restore up to 4 acres of monarch habit. This initiative will go directly to help support the planting of several hundred acres for monarch butterfly recovery. This includes efforts with Trout Unlimited in WI & MN as well as the Southwest Grasslands area of Wisconsin with the Driftless Area Land Conservancy. Here are a few updates from the field about what has come in so far from members, volunteers, partners, and chapters:
Currently Driftless Area Land Conservancy (DALC) has a monarch butterfly grant to manage and restore prairie in the Southwest Grasslands Stream Conservation Area, that covers portions of Dane, Iowa, and Lafayette Counties. Both TPE & DALC members and volunteers are collecting large amounts of seed to help improve monarch habitat. Here is an update photo from DALC with their recent pull of milkweed.
Trout Unlimited has a cost share grant project through the USDA to conduct stream restoration, and plant prairie back along the stream banks in the Wisconsin and the Minnesota Driftless Area. Members in both the Coulee Region & Minnesota Driftless Chapters have begun collecting seed to plant in that region. A lot of the seed has begun coming in to TPE's central office.
Besides the efforts to collect milkweed, TPE chapters are also busy collecting the final amounts of seed for prairie plantings scheduled this fall. I recently toured the Northwest Illinois Prairie Enthusiasts seed operations which are quite astounding. Through their Species Conservation Project, they are now ensuring that more rare species have viable populations on multiple protected sites in the region. Their efforts include picking milkweed as well. Ed Strenksi, the chapter's Land Manager, shows off their haul of common milkweed here.
There are still chapter seed picking activities going on this fall:
• The Empire-Sauk Chapter is active out at Mounds View Grassland, email Grace Vosen (email@example.com) for seed picking dates.
• The Northwest Illinois Prairie Enthusiasts have their full seed picking schedule and contact information on their website (http://www.theprairieenthusiasts.org/content.asp?contentid=142)
• The Prairie Bluff Chapter has regular workdays at several key sites around the Monroe, WI area in Green County. Interested people can email Tom Mitchell (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Thank you for helping collect milkweed seed this fall, this initiative is a true example of Grassroots Conservation in Action. Remember there is still time and this is something practical that you can do yet this year to help create more habitat for monarchs. In the spring when the next generation of monarchs returns you will be glad to know that your milkweed seed is going towards these regional efforts.
Thank you for all you do for the prairie and to support TPE in our mission to protect, manage and educate about prairie and oak savanna throughout the Midwest. You are an important species of the prairie too. Together we will make a big difference for the monarchs!