Officials to Create 'Butterfly Highway' to Save Species
A lot of people drive daily on I-35 and soon they might be sharing the road with some unusual commuters: Monarch butterflies. The Fish and Wildlife Service has announced it wants to build a highway-side corridor for Monarch butterflies in an effort to save the species from possible extinction.
The plan is to line I-35, the highway that extends from Mexico to Minnesota, with milkweed, the Monarch’s preferred plant for shelter and food.
“Reversing the decline won’t be easy, but we can do it,” stated Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Dan Ashe.
Monarch butterflies have seen a significant decrease in population in the latest years with nearly a billion butterflies gone in the last 25 years, but just like their other quickly vanishing buggy friends, the bees, they are vital for pollination and the health of our ecosystem. Their loss of habitat, according to the national agency, is their main threat.
The location for the butterfly corridor was chosen since it is the path the Monarchs take when doing a 2,000 mile long migration in their lifetime. The roadside low vegetation is perfectly suited for the animals but Ashe added that everyone can do their part too by adding Monarch friendly plants to the space that surrounds them.
“We can make habitat for the Monarch butterfly in backyards, in schoolyards, in city, county, state and national parks, in wildlife refuges, forests, along rights of way, along roadways, basically along the side of every tiny patch of open space,” said Ashe. “And the magic is if we make the habitat, the Monarch butterflies will come.”
Along with the plan, the White House also included $1.2 million for the Monarch Conservation Fund, a National Fish and Wildlife Service project that aims to protect the pollinators, and $2 million dedicated to restoring habitats so the species can once again flourish.
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