Recent Articles

Turning Iowa farmland into butterfly, bee habitat

August 3, 2016By
Turning Iowa farmland into butterfly, bee habitat

Depleted monarch butterflies and honeybees could get a boost from Iowa farmers over the next few years, thanks in part to lower commodity prices that have prompted landowners to shift more than 100,000 acres of row crops into habitat for creatures vital to pollination.

Over the past four years, Iowa farmers have enrolled 127,005 acres in a federal conservation reserve program designed to sustain butterflies, bees, wasps, birds and bats — with all but 15,000 acres being added in the past year, according to the Iowa Farm Service Agency.

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Wildflowers planted to aid bees may be crippling them

July 31, 2016By
Wildflowers planted to aid bees may be crippling them

Swaths of Midwestern wildflowers planted by well-meaning governments and nonprofits to attract bees may be inadvertently harming them. That’s the surprising finding of a new scientific study that concludes a bee-killing pesticide carried by wind or water from nearby farms is landing on the wildflowers, putting pollinators at risk.

Scientists spent two years examining wildflower plots planted around Brookings. Testing for the presence of clothianidin, a neonicotinoid insecticide commonly used in corn growing, they consistently found the insecticide on the wildflowers — even in those planted on organic farms where no pesticides are used.

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Green spaces alongside US highways are potential conservation areas

July 24, 2016By
Green spaces alongside US highways are potential conservation areas

The next time you’re tooling down the highway somewhere in America, take a look around: Those miles of medians and roadsides along our highways offer unexpected environmental benefits.

All those broad, green strips along the nation’s highways turn out be vital habitats for many small critters, as well as pollinators including bees, butterflies and birds.

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Why two California farms give me hope for the monarch butterfly

July 18, 2016By
Why two California farms give me hope for the monarch butterfly

The western population of monarch butterflies is in steep decline, according to a recent study released by the Xerces Society, having fallen 74 percent in the past two decades, from roughly 1.2 million in 1997 to fewer than 300,000 butterflies in 2015.

Studies have documented the drop in eastern populations over the past several years, but this is the first time we’ve been able to understand the risks to the western population, which resides west of the Rocky Mountains.

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Where Are All The Monarchs?

July 18, 2016By
Where Are All The Monarchs?

On March 9th 2016, just days after we’d heard the good news that monarch numbers had rebounded to cover just over 4 hectares of forest in the mountains of central Mexico; a huge winter storm hit their wintering sites and the surrounding area.

The storm began with rain and was followed by hail, snow, and sub-freezing temperatures. The freezing temperatures killed many monarchs and the strong winds caused trees to topple over, losing monarch habitat.

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Monarch Population Status

July 18, 2016By
Monarch Population Status

As most of you know, the summer of 2015 produced a strong migration and a relatively large overwintering population (4.01 hectares). To place this population growth in context, let’s review the last several years.

The population declined following each of the three growing seasons from 2011-2013. There were aspects of each season that account for these declines. For example, the temperatures from March through August in 2012 were warmer – actually hotter – than for any year going back to 1895.

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Leaders’ Statement on a North American Climate, Clean Energy, and Environment Partnership

June 30, 2016By
Leaders’ Statement on a North American Climate, Clean Energy, and Environment Partnership

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, President Barack Obama, and President Enrique Peña Nieto share a common commitment to a competitive, low-carbon and sustainable North American economy and society.

The Paris Agreement was a turning point for our planet, representing unprecedented accord on the urgent need to take action to combat climate change through innovation and deployment of low-carbon solutions.

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The Bees, the Butterflies, and You.

June 23, 2016By
The Bees, the Butterflies, and You.

Today, the Administration is releasing the Pollinator Partnership Action Plan (PPAP), building on Federal actions to improve pollinator health by facilitating additional state and private-sector engagement.

The PPAP furthers President Obama’s June, 2014, memorandum that focused the attention of Federal agencies on the plight of the pollinators—honey bee colony mortality rates that impact the viability of commercial beekeepers and agricultural pollination services; monarch butterfly declines that threaten its iconic continental-scale migration; and other pollinator species quietly slipping toward extinction.

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