City of Ann Arbor golf courses join national effort to save monarch butterflies

Huron Hills and Leslie Park golf courses commit to Monarchs in the Rough program

By Meredith Bruckner - Community News Producer

Photo: Pixabay

ANN ARBOR - Monarch butterfly populations are decreasing in the United States due to pesticides, habitat loss and intensifying climate events. 

The city of Ann Arbor has joined the nationwide effort Monarchs in the Rough, led by Audubon International and the Environmental Defense Fund, that is partnering with golf courses across North America to establish monarch habitats in areas out-of-play.

The habitats are critical for protecting the migration and breeding patterns of the monarchs, a species that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is considering placing under the protection of Endangered Species Act. Established in 2018, the project has a goal of expanding to more than 700 courses in 2020.

According to a press release:

"Monarchs in the Rough provides golf course superintendents and staff with the information and technical support they need to incorporate monarch habitat into the unique layout of each course.

"The program helps golf course personnel plan habitat projects; procure native, ecologically-appropriate plant materials including milkweed seed; plant and establish milkweed and other nectar-producing plants; and communicate with their guests about the plight of the monarch and how they can help."

"An acre of land on each of our two city courses have been dedicated to this project," said director of golf for the city of Ann Arbor, Douglas Kelly, via email. "The basic of the project has cost nothing but a few man-hours. Monitoring and helping spread the word of this travesty is a significant part of our goal. We will keep all those interested in this project posted with a future web page dedicated to just that."

When asked why the city decided to join in the effort, Kelly replied: "Because we are Ann Arbor. Proper stewardship of the environment entrusted to us by the residents of Ann Arbor makes our commitment to the environment, not only a top priority of ours, but we want to be leaders, trend setters of doing what is right -- of taking the first steps and lead the way for others.

"The Monarch Butterfly population has declined almost 90% in the last 25 years. If we can help in any way to increase their habitat and thus numbers ... we owe it to them, to the environment."

Locally, the University of Michigan and Fox Hills golf courses also participate in the program.

For more information, visit monarchsintherough.org.

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