Tarrant County College’s 158-acre South Campus is situated near the I-35 corridor, which serves as the flyway for the monarch butterfly. Currently, they maintain 16 acres of natural preservation area of native wildflowers, including some native milkweed, which is “no-mow” for more than half of the year. Dr. Peter Jordan, South Campus President, upon learning about the plight of Monarch butterflies and to support Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price and other area mayors, signed the National Wildlife Federation’s Mayor’s Monarch Pledge (on Earth Day 2016) and proposed a Monarch Sanctuary of primarily native milkweed on another section of their campus. The college became a Texan by Nature Monarch Wrangler in 2017.
South Campus has 5.57 acres of relatively undeveloped field with a possible addition of approximately 10 adjacent acres on the northwest, where there is currently some native buffalo grass being started in this sector. The proposed location for the Monarch Sanctuary is also near where the Monarchs often roost – in the City of Fort Worth Forestry Section. South Campus is also near the Stella Rowan Prairie where native milkweed and other pollinator plants grow naturally.
The Monarch action group on campus is currently in the process of converting five empty flower beds in a breezeway area between two buildings into a butterfly garden area of nectaring/hosting plants to support butterflies and serve as a Monarch educational display or outdoor learning center.
Invasive species removal has already been done and there is currently buffalo and native grasses planted in this proposed area. Some native milkweed and nectar plant seeds were planted. A small group of students participated with monarch tagging during fall 2016 with Monarch Watch and members of our SOS Monarch action group are already planning a larger participation of tagging this fall.
The proposed project areas are close to the South Campus Early College High School and available to not only students, faculty and staff, but also open to all visitors and members of the community. It’s the college’s hope to solicit keynote public speakers to discuss conservation, protection of pollinators, and efforts needed to be undertaken to support the Monarch butterflies. Publicity of such a speaking event, along with a request or suggestion, could bring to the awareness of state legislators the need to have an official Texas Monarch Butterfly Day declared so that there is an annual reminder to all residents, schools, institutions, nurseries, etc. in Texas about the importance of planning for hosting and protecting these unique, endangered insect visitors. Having an official Monarch Butterfly Day in Texas could turn out to be a much-needed tipping point in favor of their long-term survival.
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