Phoenix, Arizona - In an effort to support and reverse declining monarch butterfly populations, the Arizona Game and Fish Department is seeking volunteers to help plant milkweed this fall and winter at wildlife areas statewide.
Over the last two decades, populations of the iconic monarch butterfly have declined 80 percent throughout its historical range in the Western U.S. To help stem the losses, AZGFD plans to enhance butterfly habitat at wildlife areas statewide under the Western Monarch Butterfly Conservation Plan.
AZGFD staff and volunteers will plant native milkweed — a critical food source for caterpillars — and other flowering plants that are sources of nectar for adult monarchs. The locations are known as “monarch waystations,” where monarchs receive the necessary food and resources to produce successive generations and sustain their migration from Canada, to North America and into central Mexico.
Opportunities for the public to help plant milkweed at the wildlife areas will be available in the coming weeks and months. Planting will be timed to take advantage of monsoon and winter rainfall, so the schedule of events is tentative. The following tentative locations and dates include:
- Page Springs Fish Hatchery near Cornville on Sept. 30, 2019
- Sipe, Wenima and Becker Lake Wildlife Areas near Springerville on Oct. 19, 2019
- Colorado River Nature Center in Bullhead City on Oct. 26, 2019
- Whitewater Draw Wildlife Area in McNeal on Nov. 2, 2019
- Robbins Butte Wildlife Area in Buckeye on Dec. 7, 2019
- Horseshoe Ranch near Black Canyon City on Jan. 18, 2020
- Cluff Ranch Wildlife Area near Safford on Feb. 8, 2020
The waystations are being developed through AZGFD’s collaboration with Southwest Monarch Study and the Gila Watershed Partnership. Southwest Monarch Study is a non-profit agency focused on monarch conservation that is providing materials and expertise for the waystations through a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. The Gila Watershed Partnership is a local non-profit focused on watershed conservation that is growing the milkweed plugs to be planted.