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Planting local milkweed for the monarch

By TRAVIS WEIK - tweik@thecouriertimes.com

Volunteers are invited to get their hands dirty this weekend at Fall Creek Woods and Province Pond.

Healthy Communities of Henry County is teaming up with the Endangered Species Coalition (ESC) to add new milkweed plants to these protected areas Saturday.

Milkweed is a necessary piece of the puzzle in the life cycle of the monarch butterfly.

“Monarch butterflies desperately need help,” said ESC’s Jeffrey Waggoner. Waggoner is the Indiana Lead Species Guardian.

He said the monarch butterfly was once ubiquitous across the country. Population numbers for the iconic butterfly have fallen by 90 percent in just the past 20 years.

“Milkweeds – which also are in decline over recent decades – are absolutely essential for monarch butterflies to survive,” Waggoner said, “because monarch caterpillars feed exclusively on milkweeds.”

Friday is the 13th annual Endangered Species Day. This is an opportunity for people of all ages to learn about the importance of protecting endangered species and everyday actions they can take to help protect them.

As part of the local effort to bring back monarch habitats, Healthy Communities volunteers will plant milkweed at Fall Creek Woods from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Saturday. They will then move to Province Pond Wetland Conservation Area from 1:30-3 p.m.

Fall Creek Woods is a Red-tail Land Conservancy property located at 5900 N. Mechanicsburg Road, Middletown, one mile north of U.S. Hwy 36.

Province Pond Wetland Conservation Area is managed by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and is located on U.S. Hwy 36 between Sulphur Springs and Mt. Summit.

Members of the public are welcome to attend and watch a milkweed planting, ask questions and roll up their sleeves to pitch in.