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Columns

Conservation@Home: Help create habitat for monarchs, other pollinators

John Church
John Church

You can help build a corridor of habitat. There has been a great deal of attention given to protecting monarch butterflies recently, but The Conservation Foundation (TCF) is leading a coalition of partners in the Fox Valley to actually preserve, restore and create habitat for the monarchs and other pollinators in the local area.

Thanks to a $250,000 grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Foundation, TCF has been able to bring together 11 other local public and private agencies and groups to form the Fox Valley Monarch Corridor Project. In Kendall County, the partnership also includes the Kendall County Forest Preserve District and the Oswegoland Park District.

The corridor covers almost 1,000 acres and will include the establishment and restoration of 10 multiple-acre natural habitat areas along with hundreds of smaller “stepping stone” sites that will enhance connectivity between the larger habitat sites. A key component of establishing the corridor is establishing smaller habitat sites on private lands as linkages. TCF’s Conservation@Home and Conservation@Work programs offer an excellent opportunity for homeowners and business owners to create such habitat on their property and help enhance the corridor.

Small, individual steps can help make a difference in protecting monarch and pollinator populations. Even planting a few milkweed plants around your home can enhance the monarch’s habitat to feed and multiply. Adding more native plants can help pollinators and other natural landscape functions.

Native plants are those species that were present locally when the first settlers arrived. These plants have evolved over thousands of years to be able to live on rainwater alone and their deep roots help infiltrate rain where it falls and carry the moisture deep into the ground to replenish our aquifers, cleaning it as it goes.

Native prairie and woodland plants evolved in this climate and can handle the cold deep freeze, the spring rains and the hot drought conditions that we experience here in northern Illinois. Once they are established, native plants thrive on their own and do especially well during drought conditions.

Because they “evolved” here, the plants attract dozens of species of beneficial wildlife like butterflies and songbirds.

There are countless ways to incorporate native vegetation into your home landscape. Start one plant at a time – or create a whole new flower bed. The Conservation Foundation’s Conservation@Home and Conservation@Work programs are good ways to learn more and to get started.

For more information, phone 630-553-0687, ext. 204, or see theconservationfoundation.org.

• John Church is the Kendall County program director at The Conservation Foundation.

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