JDCF has been selected to receive a grant award from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation for $83,640 over the next two years. Funding from this grant will be used to restore prairie and monarch habitats on former agricultural land on two of JDCF’s preserves. This grant will also be used to support JDCF’s outreach and education program, which will focus its 2016 education efforts around the theme Insects of the Upper Mississippi.
Monarch butterfly populations have been declining in recent decades to due in-part to the loss of summer breeding habitat and the loss of milkweed plants. Milkweed plants are the only source of food for monarch butterfly caterpillars and thus play a critical role in the life cycle of monarchs. Milkweed populations have been declining over the past several decades due to agricultural intensification, development of rural areas, and the use of mowing and herbicides to control vegetation (including milkweed) in roadside ditches. With milkweed populations declining, monarchs are declining as well. The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation established the Monarch Butterfly Conservation Fund in 2015 to help organizations like JDCF establish suitable habitat and bring monarch butterfly populations back from decline. Twin Ponds Research Farm south of Stockton has pledged to donate 5000 milkweed plants to be given away to landowners at education and outreach events in 2016.
Funding for the Monarch Butterfly Conservation Fund was provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Monsanto Company. Matching funds for this project were provided through a grant from the Grand Victoria Foundation, a Community Stewardship Challenge grant from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation, and an in-kind donation from Twin Ponds Research Farm.