What is the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR)
doing to Help Monarchs (Danaus plexippus) and Other Pollinators?
The IDNR Division of Natural Heritage works to improve and increase the amount of habitat for native pollinators statewide. Their staff members work with public and private landowners. They are leading coordination of monarch conservation in the state starting with the Illinois Monarch Butterfly Summit held on September 9, 2016.
The Illinois Wildlife Preservation Fund supports projects to increase pollinator habitat.
"Monarch Mania!" was the theme for Conservation World at the Illinois State Fair in 2014. Educational displays, activities and information were present throughout Conservation World. A packet of common milkweed seeds (Asclepias syriaca) was given to every family who signed the pledge board to “Plant Milkweeds for Monarchs!” An educational Web page and nine video podcasts (IDNR Web site and YouTube) were posted to the IDNR Web site. Some of the displays were also used at the 2014 Du Quoin State Fair.
In total, during the fall of 2014 and winter of 2015, 10,600 packets of common milkweed seeds were distributed to the following groups: families at the Illinois State Fair; every public and private school in the state recognized by the Illinois State Board of Education; all public libraries; colleges and universities; and teachers at teacher conferences. The mailings to the schools, libraries and colleges/universities included a letter explaining the declines that monarchs are facing, factors causing the decline and positive actions that could be taken to help this species.
Several ENTICE (Environment and Nature Training Institute for Conservation Education) educator workshops have been held on the topics of Illinois Pollinators, Monarch Mania!, Illinois Native Bees and Illinois Butterflies and Moths.
Kids for Conservation’s® August 2014 topic was Monarchs
. The August 2015 topic was Habitat Helpers!
A Webinar on the status of monarchs and how to help them was conducted in December 2014 with the cooperation of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Partners for Fish and Wildlife program.
During the 2015 Illinois State Fair, families who visited Conservation World had the opportunity to pledge to be a Habitat Helper! and receive a packet of seeds from native plants that are beneficial as food sources for pollinators. Pollinators, monarchs and native bees were also featured topics in the IDNR Division of Education tent. At the 2016 Illinois State Fair, monarchs and native bees were highlighted in the Division of Education tent. Milkweed seeds were distributed by the Illinois Recreational Access Program. During the 2017 Illinois State Fair, the IDNR Division of Education featured “Pollinators” in their tent with activities and information for children and adults. Seeds from native plants to develop a pollinator garden were distributed. A pollinator garden and native prairie plant gardens were available to view. The IDNR Illinois Recreational Access Program provided common milkweed seeds and developed a butterfly house for people to visit.
The Schoolyard Habitat Action Grant
from the IDNR Division of Education provided to teachers and youth-group leaders with the support of the Jadel Family Foundation, the Daniel F. and Ada L. Rice Foundation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Partners for Fish and Wildlife program and the Illinois Conservation Foundation funds many butterfly gardens, rain gardens, pollinator gardens, prairies and other wildlife habitat areas.
Earth Day in the Parks
from the IDNR Division of Education offers approximately 1,000 students per year the opportunity to perform natural resources stewardship activities at Illinois state parks. More than a hundred thousand native plants have been established from their work. The Illinois Wildlife Preservation Fund has supported this program with funding.
The IDNR’s Mason State Nursery is participating in the “Monarch Wings Across the Eastern Boreal Forest” program. This multi-state effort is being led by the Pollinator Partnership and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to collect seeds from native plants that produce good monarch and pollinator habitats in the states of Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio. The seeds will be cleaned at the Mason State Nursery and sent back to the states to be planted in designated areas to increase monarch/pollinator habitat. The Mason State Nursery also sells packets of seeds and container plants that are suitable for development of monarch/pollinator gardens and habitat areas.