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Iowans Creating Habitats to Reverse the Decline of Monarch Butterflies

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CRESTON, Iowa -- For years monarch butterflies have seen a population decline in Iowa due to inadequate habitats. Now, several groups are working to change that.

After years of being used for corn and beans, an 80-acre field southeast of Creston was converted to a habitat for wildlife back in 2016.

“It was a piece of ground that I kind of wanted to have rested up. It had been farmed pretty hard. Part of it is highly erodible ground,” said landowner Roger Ide.

Roger and Jean Ide put their land in the United States Department of Agriculture's Conservation Reserve Program for 15 years. The program pays a yearly rental payment in exchange for farmers removing environmentally sensitive land from agricultural production and planting species that will improve environmental quality.

Once in the program, the Ides spent $280 an acre to seed the field with a variety of plants such as milkweed and various blooming flowers. This helped to attract quail, pheasant and deer populations. A meeting was held in Creston Monday to explain to landowners how they can go about putting this kind of habitat on their land.

“We`re really trying to target landowners and producers to get them to come out today and talk about the importance of pollinator habitats,” said Kelsey Fleming with Pheasants Forever, a non-profit organization working to conserve pheasants, quail and other wildlife populations.

The meeting focused on habitats for monarch butterflies since the monarch butterfly population has been going down in recent years because of a lack of habitats.

“The trees in the grove used to be covered with monarchs. You see a few, but not too many anymore,” said Jean Ide.

An advantage of being in the Conservation Reserve Program is at the end of the year in an uncertain market, the Ides know they will have a check coming.

The event was being hosted by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, Iowa Pheasants Forever, USDA-NRCS and the Union County Soil and Water Conservation District.

If anyone wants to develop a monarch habitat, they should check with their local United States Department of Agriculture office. More information about the program can also be found on its website.

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