Milkweed Roundup a Success
This summer we asked TPE members, supporters, and volunteers to collect milkweed seed to be used in efforts to increase habitat for monarch butterflies. TPE Executive Director Chris Kirkpatrick provides an update on the project in this blog post.The response to the Milkweed Roundup has been rather amazing. 45 pounds of Milkweed seed have been cleaned by volunteers from TPE and the Driftless Area Land Conservancy. The even more amazing thing is there are still several dozen pounds of seed to be cleaned! From members sending in their backyard seed pods, to people collecting pickup trucks full of seed, it has been wonderful to see what the community can do together to help give monarchs a better chance of success in the years to come.
Thank you to each and every member and volunteer who collected seed this year. Many thanks go out to the Empire-Sauk chapter volunteers who collected 12 pounds of seed at Mounds View & Erbe Grasslands and reached the goal set out to match the Monarch Butterfly grant from the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation (NFWF). Many thanks also go to Grace Vosen, who was the Empire-Sauk Seed Coordinator, who worked with the chapter volunteers to collect dozens of seed species to plant more acreage at Mounds View this fall.
The total goal set out by Driftless Area Land Conservancy (DALC) was 50 pounds of seed. Amy Alstad with DALC hosted seed picking cleaning days this past month, where volunteers from both organizations got together to clean and process the seed. The first step was to pull the milkweed pod and collect the seed and white fluff. You can see this in the photos in this blog of the dried milkweed, the seed and white fluff, then the substantially cleaned seed, and finally the processed white fluff.
Our sincere thanks also go out to Ed Strenski and the seed picking efforts of the Northwest Illinois Prairie Enthusiasts. Ed loaned the chapter's milkweed seed cleaning machine for Amy's work parties, which worked very well to clean up to 8 pounds of seed. Amy then worked with Mike Engle with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service's (FWS) Partner for Wildlife Program. Together Amy and Mike were able to use the FWS's hammer mill and fanning machine to clean about 37 pounds of seed.
The amazing results from this year's harvest have nearly met the goals of Driftless Area Land Conservancy's NFWF Monarch Grant. Amy Alstad estimates that only about half of the collected milkweed seed has been cleaned. This seed is earmarked to go towards trout stream restoration efforts that Trout Unlimited is working on in WI & MN. Their current projects are looking for 25 pounds of seed, which should be more than enough from what is still to be cleaned this winter.
Thank you for helping collect milkweed seed this fall, this initiative is a true example of Grassroots Conservation in Action. Remember that each pound of milkweed seed can restore up to 4 acres of monarch habit. This means that the total seed collected this year, which in total is estimated to be at least 75 pounds of seed, will help plant 300 acres of habitat for monarch butterflies. The Milkweed Roundup was something practical that members and volunteers like you helped to do to 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!