December 21 is the deadline for farmers and ranchers to apply for funding from the current round of the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).
EQIP provides financial and technical assistance to (among other things) establish habitat that benefits monarch butterflies and other wildlife.
Milkweed and other nectar-rich plants provide food for monarchs and other pollinators, such as honey bees, that are vital to agriculture.
Establishing and restoring native grasslands, with milkweed and other nectar-rich plants, within Oklahoma is critically important because the state falls within the heart of the butterfly’s habitat and migration corridor. Milkweed also provides homes for beneficial insects that control the spread of destructive insects.
According to Dustin Lamoreaux, coordinating wildlife biologist, “EQIP helps landowners increase and manage monarch habitat on private lands.”
“There are many ways that landowners can establish monarch-friendly habitat, including but not limited to: brush management, prescribed burning, prescribed grazing, and monarch plantings.”
In addition to providing benefits for pollinators, many of these practices also help reduce erosion, increase soil health, control invasive species, provide quality forage for livestock, and make agricultural operations more resilient and productive.
Pollinator plantings can be placed along field borders, in buffers around waterways or wetlands, in pastures, and in other suitable locations.
Gary O’Neill, NRCS State Conservationist, said, “This project focuses on improving fall nectaring habitat for monarchs on existing native grasslands. I hope that producers who have heard about the monarch programs in the past but haven’t applied will take another look at how it could fit into their operations.”
NRCS accepts EQIP applications on a continuous basis, but only applications filed by Dec. 21 are eligible for the next round of funding through EQIP.
USDA is an equal opportunity employer, provider, and lender. For more information about this (or any other) NRCS program, contact the nearest USDA field office. For more information specifically about the Monarch Butterfly Habitat Project or wildlife habitat assistance, you can also contact Dustin Lamoreaux of Pheasants Forever by email or phone (405-714-7893).