As you may know, the iconic monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) and its spectacular migration are in jeopardy. Their North American numbers have suffered a steep decline of approximately 90% over the past two decades, and in 2014 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was petitioned to protect the monarch butterfly under the Endangered Species Act (with a listing decision expected for December 2020). Like the monarch, the rusty patched bumble bee (RPBB) was a common species 20 years ago, but populations have also seen a swift decline since the 1990s, which earned it placement on the endangered species list in 2017.
While there are many factors driving pollinator declines, one key cause for the reduction in pollinator populations is loss of habitat. As a result, Pollinator Partnership has joined forces with several organizations and agencies throughout AR, IL, IN, MI, MN, OH, PA, and WI on Project Wingspan program efforts to enhance the landscape across the Midwest and Great Lakes Region and support the conservation of these imperiled species.
Wingspan partners have put a call out for enthusiastic seed collecting volunteers in all 8 states to help identify and collect milkweed and other common native forage plants. As a seed collecting volunteer you will be provided with free online training and be making valuable contributions to supporting migrating monarchs and the imperiled rusty patched bumble bee. To sign-up as a seed collector please complete the online form: https://tinyurl.com/Wingspan-volunteer. Once signed-up, you will be directed to the appropriate module by your State Coordinator and can take our simple 6-step training: https://www.pollinator.org/wingspan/seed-collection.
Project Wingspan is also looking for landowners and public land managers with robust native plant populations, who are interested in supporting local habitat restoration efforts by serving as native seed collection sites. To see their list of target plants and sign-up as a potential seed collection location please fill out the online form: https://tinyurl.com/PWseedsite.
Project Wingspan is working to document, secure, and enhance monarch, rusty patched bumble bee, and other rare pollinator habitat. Public land managers and private land stewards (with at least one acre of land) who are committed to long-term habitat conservation are invited to participate. To join in this effort, complete the preliminary online survey. All participants will receive helpful information and resources regarding habitat enhancement practices and selected sites may be eligible for native plant material awards.
Please visit https://pollinator.org/wingspan/survey
For questions please e-mail Elizzabeth Kaufman at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Who can get involved? Just about anyone 16+! This project is a great opportunity for Master Gardeners, Master Naturalists, park friends groups, naturalists, native plant societies, public and private land owners/managers, universities, community organizations, natural resource students & professionals, and others to engage with their local community, support imperiled pollinators, and gain valuable skills.
Please consider joining the Project Wingspan team and help us save these imperiled pollinators from disappearing from our landscapes forever.
Together, we CAN make a difference!