A landmark agreement in the U.S. is giving monarch butterflies the “right-of-way”: 45 transportation and energy companies as well as private landowners will create and maintain protected roadside and utility corridors across the nation to ensure safer habitats for the insects.
The agreement, signed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the University of Illinois in Chicago (UIC), ensures that, in exchange for participating landowners dedicating a percentage of their lands to monarch conservation management, they won’t need to take any additional conservation measures on the rest of their land if the butterfly is later listed as endangered.
Iris Caldwell, program manager at the Energy Resources Center at UIC and part of the Rights-of-Way as Habitat Working Group, tells Mongabay that “if you are following what’s happening with the butterflies, you know we really can’t wait” until the monarch butterflies are deemed endangered, adding, “We need to be creating habitat on a variety of different landscapes, as much as we can.”
Caldwell is hopeful that the Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances – the largest and first of its kind to be implemented nationwide – will help better preserve the monarchs by using data collected to improve management practices over time.