SOMA, Students take up the call to help save the monarch butterfly
Fish and Wildlife Service and Partners Restore Monarch Habitat through Connecting People with Nature and Schoolyard Habitat Programs
The Southern Oregon Monarch Advocates (SOMA) has made great progress this year in restoring monarch butterfly habitat, due in part, to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife’s Service’s Connecting People With Nature (CPWN) grant funding of approximately $800. SOMA is a local grass roots-volunteer group committed to improving the “monarch migration highway” in southwest Oregon for the western population of the iconic monarch butterfly. The main focus of the group has been establishing monarch waystations through planting native milkweed and nectar species, raising monarchs and conducting associated public outreach.
The monarch, one of the most recognizable butterfly species in America, is in trouble. Threats, including loss of milkweed habitat needed to lay their eggs and for their caterpillars to eat, are having a devastating impact on their populations and the migration phenomenon. These beautiful insects undertake one of the world’s most remarkable and fascinating migrations, traveling thousands of miles over many generations from Mexico, across the United States, to Canada. Programs like SOMA are essential to help the Monarch so that this amazing animal will not disappear in our lifetime.
CPWN funds helped SOMA with the development of the local propagation of native milkweed seedlings, along with raising public awareness of the need to plant native milkweed for monarch habitat. The project enabled them to work with two rural nurseries to increase the propagation and supply of native milkweed seedlings to meet the increasing public demand for native milkweed. This includes the building of new raised-beds along with improvements to the Applegate Elementary School’s greenhouse. Students at this school in Applegate, Oregon, will assist each year in the planting and care of the milkweed nursery. It is anticipated that student-raised milkweed will then be sold as a fundraiser. This effort is part of a larger, pollinator student-educational program at the school.
CPWN funds were utilized by SOMA to purchase growing supplies, to launch a line of pollinator plants in cooperation with the Silver Springs Nursery in Williams, Oregon. These plants will help to provide the palette of plants important for monarch butterflies during the spring, summer and fall. Silver Springs will grow seedlings wholesale to be available for other nurseries.
This past year, SOMA has completed outreach activities on two continents; reached hundreds of students and twice as many adults in various workshops and seminars; they completed construction on eight monarch waystations; partnered with rural seed propagation nurseries to increase the production of milkweed seedlings and other native nectar-bearing plants for monarchs; participated in a monarch tagging program with Washington State University; and engaged youth with an art contest for production of monarch sign posts for the Butterfly Wing Trail System at the Coyote Trails Nature Center in Medford. Check out the winning artwork of our “MonART” project at http://www.somonarchs.org/monart
The Service is proud of the successes our SOMA partners and their conservation efforts in restoring monarch butterfly habitat and Connecting People with Nature. For more information about SOMA Projects – check out the Coyote Trails Monarch Waystation at http://www.somonarchs.org/ctnc
Photo Credit: USFWS Images and SOMA