Iowa Monarch Conservation Strategy Updated with Best Management Practices

Female monarch on blazing star flower
Female monarch on blazing star, Boone County. Photo by Jacqueline Pohl, Iowa State University.

The Iowa Monarch Conservation Strategy now includes best management practices to guide Iowans in helping to increase monarch butterfly habitat.

Establishing and maintaining monarch habitat on agricultural lands, urban and suburban areas, rural roadside rights of way and public lands is essential for Iowa to meet its monarch conservation goal of establishing 480,000 to 830,000 acres of habitat by 2038. These goals were outlined in the strategy, released in March of 2018, by the Iowa Monarch Conservation Consortium.

“We've come full circle from when we released our monarch strategy with conservation goals back in March,” said Bruce Trautman, Department of Natural Resources acting director. “We're now providing some viable conservation practices to help meet those specific goals."

The updated Iowa strategy, released today, provides information on best management practices, including details about choosing and preparing a site as well as planting and managing it. Developed by the consortium members, the strategy guides the implementation and documentation of a voluntary, statewide conservation effort based on the best available science.

Milkweed seed pods in August
Milkweed seed pods in August, Madison County. Photo by Dana Schweitzer, Iowa State University.

“Farmers and landowners can play an important role in helping meet our monarch conservation goals by adding habitat to a number of areas around the farm. The grassy areas around a barn, grassed waterway in a field or CRP acres are all potential sites for adding habitat. By working together, we can have a huge impact on monarch conservation efforts,” said Mike Naig, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture.

Some consortium members are already putting best management practices into action.

“Biofuels producers around Iowa, through the IRFA Monarch Fueling Station Project, have been adding monarch habitat to their facility landscapes for about a year now,” said Iowa Renewable Fuels Association Executive Director Monte Shaw. “This is always in close consultation with local experts on best management practices for the habitat. We are proud to be part of this statewide effort to help protect Iowa’s natural environment in a new way.”  

Iowa's strategy is part of a multistate plan of 16 states. Iowa's milkweed goals represent approximately 12% of the regional habitat goal established in the multistate plan.

“Habitat establishment is a process, and these newly added best management practices will help Iowa farmers, landowners and citizens get a good start with establishing monarch habitat,” said Joe Colletti, interim endowed dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Iowa State University. “The consortium can help by connecting them with local technical assistance and resources.”

The revised strategy includes Iowa Monarch Conservation Consortium member organizations that can be contacted for advice in establishing and maintaining habitat.

Since the 1990s, the eastern monarch population has declined by more than 80 percent in North America. The United States Fish and Wildlife Service is currently considering whether the eastern monarch should be listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act. A decision is expected in June of 2019.

The Iowa Monarch Conservation Consortium formed in 2015 with a goal of promoting monarch breeding and survival in Iowa. The consortium is a group of 50 organizations, including agricultural and conservation associations, agribusiness and utility companies, universities and county, state and federal agencies.

The Iowa Monarch Conservation Strategy, along with monarch conservation plans created by other states, will be used by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service to determine if voluntary conservation efforts are sufficient to avoid listing the species.  

Information about the consortium and how to support monarch conservation is available at:



Steve Bradbury, Natural Resource Ecology and Management, (515) 294-7315,

Jacque Pohl, Entomology, (515) 294-9980,

Ed Adcock, Agriculture and Life Sciences Communications Service, 515-294-2314,


Iowa Monarch Conservation Consortium members and partners include:

Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship; Iowa Department of Natural Resources; Iowa State University; Alliant Energy; BASF, Bayer CropScience; Blank Park Zoo; Bur Oak Land Trust; Central College; Cornell College; Corteva Agriscience, Agriculture Division of DowDuPont; Environmental Defense Fund; Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives; Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives; Iowa Cattlemen’s Association; Iowa Corn Growers Association; Iowa County Conservation System; Iowa Farm Bureau Federation; Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation; Iowa National Guard; Iowa Nature Conservancy; Iowa Pork Producers Association; Iowa Soybean Association; Iowa Renewable Fuels Association; Iowa Turkey Federation; Iowa Wildlife Federation; ITC Midwest; Luther College; Monarch Watch; Muscatine Island Research Farm Association, Fruitland; Northeast Iowa Agricultural Experimental Association, Nashua; North Central Iowa Research Association, Kanawha; Northwest Iowa Experimental Association, Sutherland; Pheasants Forever; Polk County Conservation; Practical Farmers of Iowa; Prudenterra; Sand County Foundation; Soil and Water Conservation Society; Southeast Iowa Agricultural Research Association, Crawfordsville; Story County Conservation; Syngenta; Trees Forever; Western Iowa Experimental Farm Association, Castana; University of Minnesota Monarch Butterfly Laboratory; University of Northern Iowa Tallgrass Prairie Center; U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service Corn Insects and Crop Genetics Research Unit; Wallace Foundation for Rural Research and Development, Lewis; Whiterock Conservancy; and Women Food & Ag Network. Iowa-based U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency, U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service and US Fish and Wildlife Service are ex officio partners.