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‘Got Milkweed?’ River Falls joins effort to boost the Monarchs

A “Monarch City USA” sign has been placed in a kiosk in DeSanctis Park. The designation is part of an effort to help Monarch Butterflies, which the city has joined. (River Falls Journal photos by Gretta Stark)

Arbor Day is nearing – April 29 – and city parks representatives hope that people will plant more than just trees this year.

City employees take the time each Arbor Day to plant trees with local elementary school students. This year, in addition to planting trees, they’ll hand out milkweed seeds to the students.

It’s all to support monarch butterflies, said Recreation Coordinator Cindi Danke.

Several City Council members and city staff received postcards from the Washington state based nonprofit Monarch City USA, inviting River Falls to join its efforts to support monarch butterflies.

River Falls, Danke said, decided to join the program.

“I certainly think it’s a start,” she said. “ I don’t know how many other people have seen, but I only saw one monarch last year all summer.”

Monarch butterflies are important, Danke said, for their help in pollinating different plants.

Milkweed plant is one of monarch butterflies’ main food sources.

So Monarch City USA encourages people around the nation to plant more milkweed plants, Danke said.

“It’s exciting,” said Danke of the Monarch City USA program. “And their whole tagline is ‘Got Milkweed.’”

In order to be a certified member of Monarch City USA, Danke said, the city has to do the following:

  • Publicly proclaim that the city is committed to helping the monarch butterflies survive by immediate and future actions.

  • Encourage citizens to plant private milkweed and nectar gardens throughout your city.

  • Work with gardening, landscaping, and/or arboretum clubs in the city.

  • Support the national movement to support monarch butterfly habitat development by purchasing and placing Monarch City USA signs at appropriate sites.

  • Convert lands to monarch butterfly habitat.

  • Re-establish native milkweed and nectar plants where possible.

  • Integrate monarch butterfly conservation into the city's future land use planning efforts.

  • Work with the local K-12 school system and educators to promote a better understanding of land use conservation.

So far, Danke said, in addition to handing out milkweed seeds on Arbor Day, and talking to kids about why it’s important to plant them, a butterfly class has been planned for Monday, June 20, at the schoolhouse in DeSanctis Park, for a fee of $30 per child, or a City Resident Discounted Fee of $15.

Through the class, kids ages 6-9 will learn about butterflies, and how to help them live. They will make a butterfly craft, and plant some nectar plants and seeds, including milkweed.

A Monarch City USA sign has also been placed at DeSanctis Park on the west side of River Falls.

Danke said she thought having the event at DeSanctis might be an interesting way to get more people to visit that park, as well as teach kids about butterflies.

Danke said these are just the first steps in River Falls becoming part of the Monarch City USA program. Milkweed plants will be planted at DeSanctis Park, and city employees are looking for other locations to plant milkweed in the city, she said.

More activities dealing with monarchs are yet to be developed, and will be added in the future, Danke said.

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Gretta Stark

Gretta Stark has been a reporter for the River Falls Journal since July of 2013. She previously worked as a reporter for the New Richmond News from June 2012 to July 2013. She holds a BA in Print and Electronic Media from Wartburg College.

(651) 301-7849