Ward Walker 7-Oaks Ranch Partners with Laura Bush’s Organization Texan by Nature

The Ward Walker Ranch recently became a Texan by Nature Monarch Wrangler for their efforts to create habitat essential to the monarch butterfly. Texan by Nature is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit founded by former First Lady Laura Bush to align the broad interests of conservation groups with business, healthcare, schools, the scientific community, and faith-based organizations. Their mission is to spur Texan-led conservation that produces tangible benefits for people, prosperity, and natural resources.

Monarch Wrangler is Texan by Nature’s first statewide initiative and provides Texas employers, organizations, and individuals with a results-oriented and meaningful way to get involved in creating habitat essential to the monarch butterfly through planting natives, removing invasive species, and tagging or tracking monarchs. Whether you’re an individual with a love for monarchs or a business leader looking to give back to your community, becoming a Monarch Wrangler is a rewarding and educational experience. To become a Monarch Wrangler visit: www.texanbynature.org/programs/monarch-wrangler

.On April 30th-May 1st a staff member from Texan by Nature and members from other organizations, planted native milkweed plants on the Ward Walker 7-Oaks Ranch. The Ward Walker family has been working to remove invasive species, such as redberry juniper (Juniperus pinchotii) by mechanical methods and prescribed burning. The family also practices rotational grazing and has been seeding native grasses, wildflowers, and forbs on the property to benefit many species of wildlife such as the monarch butterfly. Milkweed plants (genus Asclepias) are essential for monarch butterfly reproduction; monarchs lay their eggs on the milkweed and the larvae utilize the milkweed as a food source.

The milkweed planted on the ranch was provided by Monarch Watch. Their mission is to address changes in agricultural practices and development which decimated monarch habitat, and to restore habitats for monarchs, pollinators, and other wildlife. Monarch Watch is initiating a nationwide landscape restoration program called “Bring Back The Monarchs.” The goals of this program are to restore 20 milkweed species, used by monarch caterpillars as food, to their native ranges throughout the United States and to encourage the planting of nectar-producing native flowers that support adult monarchs and other pollinators.

To participate in Monarch Watch’s Milkweed Restoration Program, applicants for restoration milkweed plants must demonstrate that they have a land management plan, and that other nectar sources are either pre-existing or are included in the new planting. Ward Walker 7-Oaks Ranch is a great example of exactly the conditions for which the program is looking. For more information on Monarch Watch visit www.monarchwatch.org.

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Philip Walker (7-Oaks Ranch), Leland Wellman (Ozona Resident), Cathy Downs (Monarch Watch) and Taylor Keys (Texan by Nature)
Pete Ewald (Wildlife Systems), Houston Dobbins (Natural Resources Conservation Service), Suzanne Meyer (Del Rio Resident), Cathy Downs (Monarch Watch), Taylor Keys (Texan by Nature) and Paula Harley (seated; Texas Master Naturalist)


Article by Taylor Keys – Conservation Associate, Texan by Nature