US Fish & Wildlife Grants for Karner Blue Butterflies
The Karner Blue Butterfly may be endangered in Wisconsin, but members of the Prairie Sands Chapter of The Prairie Enthusiasts are actively doing something about that. Several members have long been active in this conservation effort, but now others can join in that effort using funding from the US Fish and Wildlife Service. This blog post describing the efforts and funding was provided by David Hamel, Kurt Waterstradt, and Ray Goering.The Karner Blue Butterfly may be endangered in Wisconsin, but members of the Prairie Sands Chapter of The Prairie Enthusiasts are actively doing something about that. John Shillinglaw is one of those chapter members, and his 240 acre Mecan Prairie is one of the places. Since the 1990s, John has been planting acres and acres of wild lupine (Lupinus perennis) (they don't call him Johnny Lupine Seed for nothing).
John sets up transects (two poles set in specific locations within the prairie) on the prairie where representatives of the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) come every July or early August while the Karner's are in flight and count the Karner Blue Butterflies between the transects.
Recently John reported that the 2017 Karner Blue Butterfly counts have been tallied, and they estimate 10,000 Karner Blue Butterflies were present at Mecan Prairie on the second flight.
In nearby in Marquette County, Shelley and David Hamel have been planting lupine at Hugh Iltis Prairie, their privately owned 120 acre dry, central sand prairie and savanna. In 1998, the Hamels partnered with the USFWS to expand their 0.2 acre patch of native wild lupine to a new seeded area of five acres. That patch has now grown to cover 30 acres and is still spreading. Along with the Wisconsin DNR, they have been counting Karner Blue Butterflies since 2011, with counts peaking at 8,000 in 2013. Numbers crashed in 2014, but have recovered. Their 2017 population estimate was 7,000. Wild Lupine has proven to be an easy species to propagate in the sandy soils of Marquette County.
Other Prairie Sands Chapter members now have a great opportunity to help save the Karner Blue Butterfly!
The US Fish and Wildlife Service office in Madison has received funding to reimburse landowners for contractor work performed on private lands to improve, or extend, habitat for the Karner Blue Butterfly (KBB). Goals for this funding include connecting existing KBB populations by creating dispersal corridors between known populations. Projects are now being proposed, and funds are available as soon as projects can be planned and approved.
Through the Fish and Wildlife Service Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program (Partners program) in partnership with the Ice Age Trail Alliance, funding will be available to work with interested landowners in Waupaca, Marquette, Green Lake, Waushara, Portage and Adams Counties to improve wildlife habitat on their lands. Funding specifically focuses on Karner Blue Butterfly (KBB) habitat, KBB's are a federally listed butterfly that require wild flowers for nectar and wild lupine to lay their eggs on.
Over the past 25 years, the Partners program has worked with over 240 landowners in the central Wisconsin, restoring prairie, oak savanna and eradicating invasive species. Goals for this funding include connecting existing KBB populations by creating dispersal corridors between known populations. Partner's program staff will work with interested landowners, local units of government, corporations, schools and others that are interested in voluntarily restoring oak savanna and dry prairie habitat. Projects often include planting fallow fields to diverse prairie mixes, removing unwanted trees and brush to create open oak woodland (savanna) habitat and spraying invasive species like spotted knapweed.
The Partners program offers financial and technical assistance to interested landowners. The usual process is meeting with a landowner on site, discussing the landowner's goals for their property, developing a management plan identifying the work to be completed, signing a 10-year agreement with the Partners program and identifying local contractors to do the work.
This voluntary conservation approach has been a model of conservation for 30 years and the Partners program continues to deliver habitat improvement projects that benefit a variety of wildlife species. For more information, please contact Kurt Waterstradt, Wisconsin Private Lands Coordinator, at 608-221-1206 x. 14 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Photos credits (in order of appearance):
Karner Blue Butterfly on Wild Lupine at Necedah National Wildlife Refuge by Ray Goehring
John Shillinglaw in a field of lupine by Susan Shillinglaw
John's tour at Mecan Prairie last August by Susan Shillinglaw
From agricultural crops to fields of lupine; photo of Shelley Hamel and dog by David Hamel
Map of USFWS KBB Recovery Area from USFWS
Karner Blue on Leadplant by Shelley Hamel