June 2015 | Grants Newsletter
HUNGRY CATERPILLAR: A
monarch larva feasts on milkweed (above). A sign indicates protected
habitat for the butterflies along their migratory path (below).
Farms are facing an invisible crisis: From California to New York, butterflies, bees, and other pollinators are disappearing.
Pollinators are vital to food production and our economy, and their rapidly declining numbers are alarming agriculture experts. Without these crucial insects, most crops can’t reach maturity or bear fruit. Honey bee pollination alone adds more than $15 billion in value to U.S. crops each year.
What’s at fault? A combination of potent insecticides and the spread of genetically modified, herbicide-resistant crops that destroy pollinator habitats.
The monarch butterfly—famous for its multi-generational migration from Mexico to Canada—is becoming increasingly rare. Monarch caterpillars feed only on milkweed, a native wildflower. But herbicides used on crops along the monarch’s migratory path are killing off milkweed.
What can be done? Two new Trust grants focus on restoring pollinator habitat, including milkweed, in several states, from New York to Illinois. With $110,000 from us, the Monarch Joint Venture
will teach farmers and other private landowners how to create monarch-friendly habitats. These habitats also prevent erosion while becoming homes for many other species.
And with $75,000 from us, the Natural Resources Defense Council
will work to conserve and create pollinator habitat on public and private lands, including 16,000 miles of roadsides. The Council also is making sure that the right kind of milkweed seeds—native, not tropical—are available for free or in the marketplace.
These projects are supported by our Henry Phillip Kraft Memorial Fund, for national and international environmental projects.
Arturo Garcia-Costas, The Trust’s program officer for the environment, says the goal is to create “oases of pollinator-friendly habitat.” He adds, “These are relatively modest but targeted approaches. They can bring significant ecological and economic benefits.”
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