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Workers at Madison Rotary’s Monarch Butterfly Habitat at Dublin Park struggled with muddy clay to plant milkweed seed. The volunteers included Alexis Nichols, from left, Cheryl Byers, Lisa Hendrix, Bailey Erickson, Trace Hackler, Mayra Pangborn, Donna Phillips and Kathy Gardner. CONTRIBUTED

Rotary spearheads efforts in habitat for Monarch Butterfly Project

MADISON – One dwindling species soon will add Madison to its migratory path to Mexico. The majestic insects will visit Rotary Club of Madison’s Monarch Butterfly Habitat.

Last November, the Rotary organization committed to help save the Monarch butterfly, which was seen a 90-percent decline in population.

Rotarian Bailey M. Erickson contacted her friend Kathy Gardner with Master Gardeners of North Alabama Inc. and an expert on Monarch habitats. “We asked Dublin Park (about) planting a habitat. They agreed,” Erickson said.

Erickson is serving as project lead. Gardner is subject matter expert.

“Erickson and Gardner pursued planning, a land search, coordination with city officials, recruited volunteers and bought seed and supplies. Kory Alfred, Director of Parks and Recreation, approved a plot measuring 10 feet by 160 feet below Field 7 and above Field 6 at Dublin Park.

To start, Rotarians and volunteers planted 30,000 milkweed seeds, along with pollinator plants, last fall as the Monarchs’ main food source. “The clay was hard to work with, but we all stayed and planted the pollinators,” Erickson said.

Our next step is to have the area certified by the Save Our Monarch organization. All plants and seeds were donated by volunteers,” Erickson said.

Volunteers include Rotary Club, Madison Visionary Partners, North Alabama Zoological Society, Girl Scouts of America, Boy Scouts of America, National Honor Society, Rotary Sunset Club and Madison citizens. Kelly Johnson and the Dublin staff also assisted.

Master Gardeners Mayra Pangborn, Donna Phillips, Melissa Kirkindall and Gardner were subject matter experts for concerns such as planting location and plant variety. “These projects could not have been accomplished without their expertise,” Erickson said.

In August, the habitat will be in bloom … hopefully with Monarchs. “We had our first caterpillar on a milkweed we planted in the Dublin habitat,” Erickson said.

In addition, Rotary Club built a butterfly habitat in Madison Hospital’s Healing Garden. “Thank you, Mary Lynne Wright, CEO, and Robert Black, Groundskeeper, for letting us plant a place for Monarchs to eat on their way through the Tennessee Valley,” Erickson said. “Kathy Gardner, Melissa Kirkindall and Kevin Cedeno donated plants.”

Todd and Dawn Seaton, Dave Junghans and Leigh Boothe contributed plants, soil and mulch. The Cedeno family gave milkweeds, lavender Platinum Blonds and two pounds of seeds. Glenda Anderson gave black-eyed Susan flowers.

All campuses of Madison City School System will have a habitat with free supplies from saveourmonarchs.org/schools.html. Lee Shaw is coordinating that effort.

 

Residents can create a butterfly habitat in their yards – or even a container – by planting milkweed and flowering annuals and shrubs as pollinators.

 

For more information, email madisonrotary@gmail.com or visit Facebook/Madison Rotary Monarch Butterfly Project or Facebook/Rotary Sunset Club Madison Alabama.

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