The Native Plant Society of Texas is designing and installing Monarch Waystations featuring native pollinator plants at Texas Department of Transportation highway rest stops in Hill County and Bell County in cooperation with the US Fish & Wildlife Service. As described by Monarch Watch, Monarch Waystations are patches of habitat that provide resources necessary for monarchs to produce successive generations and sustain their migration.
The gardens will be planted with native Texas milkweed and with native plants that are used as nectar sources by the migrating butterflies. Female monarchs only lay their eggs on milkweeds and a few other plants in the same plant family. Most of the monarch butterflies east of the Rocky Mountains migrate south to Mexico each winter and return north in the spring, traveling through Texas along a corridor that roughly matches the path of Interstate Highway 35.
The Native Plant Society entered into a cooperative agreement with the U. S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) which will provide funding and technical assistance to enable the Society to plan, establish and maintain the Monarch butterfly waystations at safety rest areas along Interstate 35.
Four sites were selected for implementation, including two matching safety rest areas in Bell County and two matching rest areas in Hill County. The waystations consist of approximately 1,000 square feet in each of the two Bell County rest areas and approximately 2,000 square feet in each of the two Hill County rest areas. The proposed beds were approved in a meeting of representatives of the three managing entities (USFWS, TxDOT and the Native Plant Society).
We had a great turnout for planting the Hill County Rest Areas on October 13 and 16, 2016, with about 30 people helping on the Welcome the Monarchs! Field Day and 12 on Sunday. Many exhibits were set up for visitors to enjoy and volunteers were on hand from TxDOT and many other organizations. The work completed in October was Phase I of the Hill County project.
Since then much more work has been completed at the Hill County site and on the waystations in Bell County. The work is being done by volunteers under the direction of Kay Jenkins, a Native Plant Society of Texas board member. Future improvements will include signage at all four of the sites.
For directions to the waystations use Google maps and enter Hill County Safety Rest Area (northbound or southbound) or Bell County Safety Rest Area (northbound or southbound) and you’ll get there. You MUST be on the freeway to access the rest areas, you cannot access them from frontage roads.
If you or your organization would like to contribute volunteer hours at the site please contact our state office to make arrangements.