Rural Missouri - July 2018 - 12
photo by Heather Berry
Associated Electric powers up
pollinators at Thomas Hill
MDC Director Sara Parker Pauley says there is an awareness building that the
time to act is now.
"That's why this collaboration is so critical," Sara says. "All of these partners
are coming together to save this iconic species, and 50 years ago I'm not sure we
by Zach Smith | email@example.com
would have imagined the monarch in that capacity."
Missourians for Monarchs is the ﬁrst collaborative of its kind speciﬁcally tarhe team adjusts hard hats and safety glasses. With drills at the ready,
they head out into the ﬁeld with more than 2,400 milkweed plugs in tow. geted at reviving the species in the U.S. The state is a particularly critical area
It's not an average workday for Associated Electric Cooperative employ- because it covers two zones of the monarch's migration path. Between four and
ees at the Thomas Hill Energy Center, but then it's not every day they're ﬁve generations are born annually, and cumulatively complete the trip from two
small wintering grounds in Mexico to Canada and back again.
called upon to help save a species from becoming endangered.
Planting milkweed, the only plant the monarch caterpillar eats and the only
Wildlife scientists estimate the worldwide monarch butterﬂy population has
been reduced by between 80 and 90 percent in the past 20 years due to habitat place the butterﬂy will lay its eggs, is a key component of the recovery plan. The
loss. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is evaluating whether it should be listed Mid America Monarch Conservation Strategy has set a goal of 1.3 billion milkas a threatened or an endangered species. The agency's decision is expected by weed stems to be planted in the north zone alone over the next 20 years. Of that,
Missouri plans to have 77 million in place by 2035.
"We have a lot of work to do, and that's why it's so important that
With new regulations also could come with additional
Missourians understand the value," Sara says. "We're not only saving the
expenses for the power supplier involved with delayed or canmonarch, but all the other species that are part of these grassland and
celed projects. Rather than pass the increased cost along to
prairie habitats. And there are water and soil health beneﬁts that go
electric co-op members, AECI is tackling the problem head-on
along with that."
at its reclaimed Prairie Hill mine. The result is a win-win for monAccording to the USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Serarchs and members.
vice, some scientists estimate 1 in 3 mouthfuls of food worldwide
"That's where a lot of our concern comes in because if it's listed,
is the direct result of pollinators - not just the monarch, but also
that could affect our co-ops with vegetation management in rights
bats, birds, bees and other insects. In Missouri, where agriculture
of way or just trying to build and maintain lines," says Senior Enviis the backbone of the state economy, the impact of their loss
ronmental Analyst Rob LeForce. "Looking out for our members is
can't be overstated.
what we're all about. That's why we do these things on the front
"This goes beyond monarchs," Rob says. "The rusty patched
end, to hopefully avoid all of that and make things much simpler."
AECI is allocating $75,000 to develop the habitat, with $45,000 through a bumblebee, its habitat in eastern Missouri is historic. It no longer occurs there.
Missouri Conservation Heritage Foundation grant and a budgeted $30,000, There are other native bumblebees that are declining, and in these plots we've
plus in-kind labor. The plantings at Thomas Hill continue the co-op's long tradi- planted things to support all pollinators."
As the native plants at Thomas Hill put down roots, hopefully so will the
tion of environmental stewardship, particularly when it comes to the monarch
butterﬂy. AECI sponsored the Missouri Monarch and Pollinator Conservation dwindling pollinator population. MDC Communications Chief Heather Feeler
Strategy in 2015 and serves on the steering committee of the Missourians for says the ambitious goal can only be accomplished through coordinated efforts
across the state.
"It will take all Missourians to make it happen and restore the habitat,"
Whether it's for the quality of life in the cities or the beneﬁt of agriculture in
rural areas, there's a Missouri-led movement to boost butterﬂy numbers and at Heather says. "Everyone has an opportunity to be a part of that success story."
the center is the Missouri Department of Conservation. From converting abanFor more information on how you can help the Monarch butterﬂy and other poldoned lots into greenspaces in the urban centers of Kansas City and St. Louis
or landowners outside Kirksville reclaiming 10,000 acres of prairie grassland, linators thrive in Missouri, go to www.mdc.mo.gov and www.grownative.org.
RURAL MISSOURI | JULY 2018
Associated Electric's Brandon
Hunter, left, and Rob LeForce
plant milkweed plugs outside
the Thomas Hill Energy Center.
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - July 2018
Rural Missouri - July 2018 - Intro
Rural Missouri - July 2018 - Cover1
Rural Missouri - July 2018 - Cover2
Rural Missouri - July 2018 - Contents
Rural Missouri - July 2018 - 4
Rural Missouri - July 2018 - 5
Rural Missouri - July 2018 - 6
Rural Missouri - July 2018 - 7
Rural Missouri - July 2018 - 8
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Rural Missouri - July 2018 - 10
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Rural Missouri - July 2018 - Cover3
Rural Missouri - July 2018 - Cover4