MDC's Discovery Center hosts monarch habitat workshop

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Kansas City
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Kansas City, Mo. – Native wildflowers in urban landscape plantings can help imperiled monarch butterflies, say experts meeting in Kansas City Nov. 9-10. The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) is hosting the Urban Monarch Conservation Workshop at the Anita B. Gorman Discovery Center in partnership with other public and private conservation agencies.

Many of the attendees were from The Field Museum in Chicago; the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area; Austin, Tex., and the Kansas City metro area. Experts from those four cities are working on an Urban Monarch Landscape Conservation Design, also called “a monarch’s view of the city” project. The project’s goal is to understand where cities can create monarch habitat, what makes good monarch habitat, and how organizations can work with decision makers to invest in monarch conservation in cities. Monarch butterfly populations in North America have dropped in recent years due to habitat loss and land use changes.

Bill White, MDC Private Land Services division chief, told attendees that Missouri is working to add 19,000 acres of monarch-friendly habitat annually. Backyard garden plantings can aid in achieving that goal. The efforts of citizens and organizations throughout Missouri will be needed to help monarchs, White said.

Scott Wagner, Kansas City mayor pro tem, said projects for urban butterfly habitat help other species, too.

“When you apply yourselves to a single species, it shows what you can do for all species,” Wagner said.

The monarch habitat work being done in the current four cities coordinating efforts can provide patterns for efforts in other cities from Canada to Mexico, said Tom Melius, Midwest regional director for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

“The effort to help the monarch butterfly is helping hundreds of other species, too, animals that use the same kind of habitats,” Melius said.

For information about creating backyard habitat for monarch butterflies in Missouri, visit the MDC website at