Monarch Butterfly Conservation Fund

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Monarch butterflies are found throughout the United States, though a majority of the population migrates up to 3,000 miles to Mexico for the winter months. Over the past 20 years, the North American monarch population has declined, due mostly to loss of critical habitat. These beautiful, black-and-orange insects depend not only on nectar-producing plants throughout their range, but also milkweed — the only food source for monarch caterpillars.

In 2015, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) established the Monarch Butterfly Conservation Fund to protect, conserve and increase habitat for these iconic insects and other pollinators. The Fund focuses on three priority conservation needs to restore the monarch butterfly to a more robust and healthy population:

  • Habitat restoration to plant native milkweed for caterpillars and nectar plants for adults in both large, contiguous areas as well as in smaller patches, especially in edge habitat along the butterfly's migration route.
  • Increasing organizational capacity and coordination among organizations, states, and regions engaged in monarch conservation and monitoring, science coordination, milkweed seed blend production and distribution, and monarch programming to ensure efficiency and the use and sharing of best practices.
  • Native seed production and distribution to increase production and availability of seeds and plants essential to habitat restoration.

In September, 2015, NFWF announced a first round of grants totaling $3.3 million from the Fund. The 22 grants, which were matched by more than $6.7 million in grantee contributions, and will support the restoration of up to 33,000 acres of habitat in areas identified by experts as key to monarch recovery. The successful first round of grants was made possible through funding from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Monsanto, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service, Bureau of Land Management, and private funds from NFWF.

In 2016, NFWF is soliciting proposals that seek to produce conservation outcomes in these three areas. Funding for habitat restoration, organizational capacity building, and native seed production and distribution will support on-the-ground projects around the country with a focus on the eastern migratory population. Canadian and Mexican projects are also eligible. It is anticipated this round of selected projects will commence this fall and early winter.