Small Town Goes Big for Monarchs
The monarch message is taking hold in small towns and major cities all along their migration route; protect monarchs by planting milkweed, growing nectar plants and being careful, cautious and sparing with pesticides and mowing.
Taking action on this message became part of Monroe County’s yearlong bicentennial celebration when residents were encouraged to plant 200 monarch gardens for the 200 years of county governance. Waterloo Mayor Tom Smith provided strong support for the initiative by recruiting Alderman and Garden Club President Steve Notheisen to spearhead the effort. Waterloo, the Monroe County seat, is an Illinois city of 10,000 residents located thirty minutes southeast of St Louis. It sits squarely within the monarch’s migration corridor and summer breeding territory.
The City of Waterloo funded the purchase of milkweed seed from Monarch Watch that was distributed along with information on monarchs and milkweed. Notheisen handed out these packets throughout the year, beginning in April at a well attended community meeting, at a presentation to the Chamber of Commerce and a girl scout meeting. Packets were also made available to the public at Waterloo City Hall and the Monroe County Clerk’s Office.
Notheisen kept a supply of packets in his car and became so well known for his work on behalf of monarchs he received numerous requests for seeds when out and about town. He describes himself as a “Johnny Appleseed spreading ‘weed seed’ throughout the community.”
This year, all Waterloo Garden Club members planted milkweed in their butterfly gardens and the Club is planning a monarch waystation at the public library in 2017. The City of Waterloo is looking at converting a large lot adjacent to City Hall into a pollinator garden over the next couple of years.
Notheisen attributes the success of 200 Gardens for Monarchs to Mayor Smith’s enthusiastic support of the project. Local leadership and commitment to creating habitat in Monroe County has added several inviting havens and critically important stops along the monarch’s route between their winter and summer homes.
Please share with your mayor and ask him or her to take the Monarch Pledge.