“Because of their migratory patterns, monarchs need small patches of habitat throughout the state,” said IRFA Executive Director Monte Shaw. “Iowa’s ethanol and biodiesel plants are scattered across Iowa and also tend to have a lot of green space on their properties – making them excellent partners for this effort.”
Kevin Reynolds, who has over 30 years of experience in environmental conservation, will serve as the project’s Habitat Establishment Coordinator and assist biofuels producers in the best practices to convert grassy areas into monarch fueling stations that contain vital milkweed plants and other wildflowers that support the monarch population.
Lincolnway Energy in Nevada is the first IRFA member to establish a monarch fueling station. In recent weeks, the first steps were taken on a two-acre plot to prepare the fueling station for seeding in the spring. “It’s exciting to be the first ethanol plant in Iowa to launch a project like this,” said Eric Hakmiller, CEO of Lincolnway Energy. “Pollinators like the monarch butterfly are an important part of Iowa’s agriculture landscape. Anything we can do to protect their population is worth our time and effort.”
As part of the project, IRFA has joined the Iowa Monarch Conservation Consortium, an organization that is implementing a statewide strategy to protect the monarch butterfly in Iowa.