Project Wingspan Needs Your Help to Save Butterflies and Bumblebees

The three-year programme is looking for volunteer 'pollinators' throughout the Midwestern United States

31.05.2019 | by Reve Fisher
Photo by David Clode on Unsplash
Photo by David Clode on Unsplash

The Pollinator Partnership (P2), a non-profit environmental stewardship organisation in San Francisco, California, has launched an initiative to help with monarch butterfly and bumblebee conservation called Project Wingspan.

Like its other initiatives, such as the North American Pollinator Protection Campaign and National Pollinator Week in June, the organisation aims to bring its volunteers and supporters together to save the creatures that are playing an essential role in pollinating the ecosystem.

P2 was founded in 1997 as the Coevolution Institute, and its original aim was to promote research, outreach, and education concerning pollinators and related plants in the environment. Since then, it has become a national leader in environmental stewardship and conversation, and over 1.5 billion acres in the US have been impacted by their pollinator conservation programmes. It is the only non-profit organisation in the world whose sole focus is the health and well-being of pollinating animals and insects.

Project Wingspan is a three-year programme funded by a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Federation. The initiative aims to build upon one of its previous programmes, Monarch Wings Across the Eastern Broadleaf Forest, to establish 10,000 acres of habitat space for monarch butterflies and the rusty patched bumble bee (RPBB) across several states in the Midwest. According to P2, both insects have been placed on the endangered species list, and the RPBB is the first bee to be considered endangered in the continental 48 states.

In the first stage of the Project Wingspan initiative, P2 aims to engage public land managers and private land stewards via habitat enhancement activities. According to the Delaware Gazette, interested land managers or stewards with at least one acre of land in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania or Wisconsin can sign up until June 15th, 2019. If the site qualifies, applicants will receive a free onsite review from P2, and certain sites will be chosen to receive materials to improve the existing habitat area.

The second stage of the Project Wingspan initiative involves volunteer “pollinators” who live in the target states and want to play a role in improving the nation’s ecosystems. After receiving training, volunteers will need to identify and collect seeds from a list of selected 29 native milkweeds and other forage plants, including 29 targeted native plants such as butterfly milkweed, common boneset, tall blazing star and the eastern purple coneflower. P2 wants to have 167 seed collections per state, resulting in an estimated 10,000 seedlings that will be redistributed throughout the target states.

Those who cannot participate can still help by doing activities such as reducing pesticide use and planting flowers that bloom in different seasons. No action is too small to help the ecosystem.

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