With a June 24 deadline approaching, farmers and ranchers still have time to sign up for a federal program that provides financial and technical assistance to establish habitat that benefits monarch butterflies, pollinators, and other wildlife.
The Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) is working on improving lands for monarch butterflies. Administered by the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), this partnership helps landowners increase and manage monarch habitat on private lands.
Milkweed and other nectar-rich plants provide food for monarchs and other pollinators, such as honey bees and native bees, that are vital to agriculture.
To accelerate conservation benefits to monarch butterflies, the Monarch RCPP was established. This project focuses on increasing nectaring and breeding habitat for monarchs on working agricultural lands.
There are many ways landowners can establish monarch-friendly habitat, including, but not limited to, monarch plantings, brush management, prescribed burning, and prescribed grazing.
“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,” said Dustin Lamoreaux, State Coordinator with Pheasants and Quail Forever. “There also might be producers who weren’t eligible before, but they might be eligible now.”
Establishing and restoring native grasslands, with milkweed and other nectar-rich plants, within Oklahoma is critically important because the state falls in the heart of the butterfly’s habitat and migration corridor. Milkweed also provides homes for beneficial insects that control the spread of destructive insects.
Moreover, 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.
Lamoreaux said, “NRCS can help producers manage their pasture and rangeland in ways that increase critical populations of milkweed and nectar-rich plants while also improving the health of their rangelands. In addition, monarch/pollinator plantings can be placed in areas of unproductive cropland, along field borders, in buffers around waterways or wetlands, in pastures, and in other suitable locations.”
NRCS accepts applications on a continuous basis, but only applications filed by June 24 are eligible for the next round of funding through NRCS’ Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP).
The following counties are priority for funding: Cleveland, Creek, Lincoln, Logan, Noble, Oklahoma, Payne, Pottawatomie, Tulsa.
For more information about wildlife habitat assistance (or any other NRCS program), and to fill out an application, please check with your local USDA field office, or contact Dustin Lamoreaux by email or phone (405-714-7893).