On September 13, 2016 Mrs. Laura Bush, founder of Texan by Nature joined Texas Parks and Wildlife (TPWD), US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), National Wildlife Federation (NWF), and the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center (LBJWC) to celebrate the fall migration of monarch butterflies and to announce corporate collaborations and updates to the Texas monarch and native pollinator conservation plan.
The press conference was held at BAE Systems, one of the first corporations that signed on to Texan by Nature’s Monarch Wrangler program, which provides Texas employers and organizations with results-oriented and meaningful ways to get involved by creating essential habitat for the monarch butterfly and other important pollinator species.
Mrs. Bush opened the event by tracing the history of Texan by Nature. “A few years ago, I helped to found Texan by Nature with a group of friends and committed conservationists. Today, our vision of strong partnerships between the business, conservation, and scientific communities has truly come to life,” she said.
This collaboration is especially critical in addressing the significant decline in the population of eastern North American migrating monarchs, which has led to widespread concern in Canada, the United States, and Mexico. While the 2016 overwintering survey showed a significant increase in monarch population, post-survey storms resulted in monarch mortality. Texas plays a critical role in conservation efforts aimed at monarch conservation given its strategic position along the species’ migratory pathway (TPWD 2016).
“For Texas to remain a thriving central flyway for monarch butterflies, we must come together to conserve and create essential habitat along their migration route – the I-35 corridor just outside these doors; and we must support further research to identify the causes and solutions for their decline,” explained the former First Lady. “That means planting pollinator-friendly plants, like native Texas milkweed, in our schoolyards, at places of worship, on corporate campuses, on our ranches and farms, and in our own backyards,” she added, reiterating that all Texans can join the cause by applying to become a Monarch Wrangler on the Texan by Nature website.
Speaker Patrick Newman with LBJWC shared the words of Lady Bird Johnson, “The environment is where we all meet; where all have a mutual interest; it is the one thing all of us share. It is not only a mirror of ourselves but a focusing lens on what we can become,” which highlights the need and importance of conservation in regards to natural resources, such as beneficial pollinators.
As one of the early pilot projects in the Monarch Wrangler system, BAE Systems has already made significant progress in creating new monarch habitat in the flyway. Not only has BAE Systems been pollinator conservationists by planting native plant species and removing invasive plant species, they have also been water conservationists! BAE Systems has begun collecting rainwater for irrigation purposes and reusing the water from their air conditioning condensate from buildings on the campus, collecting approximately 32,000 gallons of water.
Stephen Ford, Program Director at the BAE Systems Austin Business Center detailed how the company has also engaged employees in conservation with education kits and seedball-making activities.
Mrs. Bush and all contributing organizations present at the conference hope that more companies will soon follow suit, enhancing Texas’ already impressive track record in the field of conservation.
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