- Associated Press - Saturday, April 29, 2017

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - The state of Nebraska has made a goal to keep monarch butterflies and other pollinators off the federal endangered species list by planting 125 million milkweed plants by 2020 and providing incentives for farmers to incorporate pollinator habitat into their land.

The plan was created by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, with input from dozens of organizations and business, some which attended a summit on monarch butterflies in Lincoln last year.

“Participation by many groups may be the only way to conserve migration and breeding habitat for monarchs, avert a threatened or endangered listing of the species, and prevent decline of other pollinators,” a recently released draft of the plan said.

World Wildlife Fund data says that the eastern monarch population has dropped an estimated 90 percent in the past 20 years, mostly because of habitat loss. This includes the conversion of 53 million acres of grassland to cropland in the Great Plains since 2009, the Lincoln Journal Star (https://bit.ly/2qbhqfv ) reported.

Efforts to help monarchs, such as planting milkweed and careful application of pesticides, can also benefit other pollinators at risk of being listed as endangered. Some of these pollinators include bumblebees, married underwing and Whitney underwing moths.

“Nebraska decided to be proactive,” commission biologist Melissa Panella said.

Panella said the federal government will wait until at least 2019 to decide whether to list monarchs as threatened or endangered.

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Information from: Lincoln Journal Star, https://www.journalstar.com


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