Feds to spend $3.2 million to help monarch butterfly
WASHINGTON - The federal government is pledging $3.2 million to help save the monarch butterfly. The iconic orange-and-black butterflies in recent years have experienced a 90 percent decline in population.
About $2 million will be spent to restore more than 200,000 acres of monarch habitat from California to the Corn Belt, including more than 750 schoolyard habitats and pollinator gardens. The rest will be used to start a conservation fund that will provide grants to farmers and other landowners to conserve habitat.
The monarch lays eggs exclusively on the milkweed plant. Conversion of prairies into cropland and the use of pesticide-resistant crops have greatly reduced milkweed, particularly in the heartland.
The move comes as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service considers whether the species needs to be classified as threatened.