Historic agreement gives monarch butterflies the ‘right-of-way’

Historic agreement gives monarch butterflies the ‘right-of-way’

The side of the road isn’t usually thought of as ideal habitat. But for insects, such as butterflies and their caterpillars, the long expanses of land along roads and utility corridors add up to a considerable amount of home turf. More than 45 transportation and energy companies, as well as dozens of private landowners, have agreed to create or maintain monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) habitat along “rights-of-way” corridors across the United States. Utility corridors can provide habitat for insects. Photo by markjohnrichards (CC BY-SA 2.0). The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) have signed a historic agreement that allows participant landholders to dedicate a percentage of their lands to monarch conservation management in exchange for regulatory flexibility on the rest of their enrolled lands. Populations of both eastern monarchs and western monarchs have declined by more than 80% over the past decade and are nearing a tipping point for migratory collapse. In light of these declines, the USFWS is set to decide in December 2020 if the monarch butterfly will be classified as a federally endangered species under the Endangered Species Act. Land managers and businesses expressed concerns that if they voluntarily created monarch habitat and the monarch was then listed as federally endangered species, the resulting regulations to protect monarchs could complicate their operations or subject them to additional permitting requirements. “Some companies wanted to wait to see how the listing would play out,” Iris Caldwell, a program manager at the…This article was originally published on Mongabay

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