Seasonal monarch butterfly habitat planting on Stonington Peninsula

The Superior Watershed Partnership and other agencies are wrapping up a season of monarch butterfly habitat planting work on the Stonington Peninsula. (Photo courtesy Abbie Debiek of the Superior Watershed Partnership.)

MARQUETTE — An Upper Peninsula nonprofit group is wrapping up a season of restoration work for monarch butterfly habitats in the southern U.P.

The Superior Watershed Partnership has been working with the Hiawatha National Forest to plant native pollinator species on the Stonington Peninsula.

Monarch butterflies travel from Canada and the U.S. to central Mexico for the winter. Many of them pass through the Stonington Peninsula.

“We share a greenhouse with the Hiawatha National Forest over on Wright Street here in Marquette,” Superior Watershed Partnership program manager Natasha Koss said. “We have grown a total of 150,000 plants over the last four years. These are all different kinds of species, the most prominent one being the common milkweed.”

Researchers announced in August that the monarch butterfly population in the eastern U.S. has fallen by 90% in the last 20 years. They claim it’s due to a decline in habitat in the Midwest, specifically milkweed.

“It’s kind of the signature canary-in-the-coal-mine kind of situation,” Koss said. “If we’re losing 90% of these butterflies, what does that mean for the rest of us and for the rest of the species on the planet? So, it just makes it all the more important, the work that we’re doing.”

Funding for the native species planting has come from the National Forest Foundation.

The Superior Watershed Partnership also says planting milkweed in your garden will also help improve monarch butterfly habitat.