The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the Native Plant Society of Texas entered into a cooperative agreement in August 2015. The agreement provides funding and technical assistance to the Society for the planning, establishment, and maintenance of Monarch butterfly waystations and interpretive signage on Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) safety rest areas between Austin and Dallas. Waystations are places that provide resources necessary for monarchs to produce successive generations and sustain their migration (MonarchWatch.org). Monarch waystations feature native milkweed plants to feed the successive generations of butterflies during the spring and summer migration to the north U.S. and Canada and fall nectar-producing plants to feed the adult Monarch butterflies as they migrate to their overwintering grounds in Mexico. To offset the loss of milkweeds and nectar sources from development and changes in agricultural practices within the migration corridor, we need to create, conserve, and protect milkweed/monarch habitats. We can help reverse habitat loss by creating Monarch waystations in home gardens, at schools, businesses, parks, zoos, nature centers, along roadsides, and on other unused plots of land. A garden as small as 100 sq. ft. in area can qualify as a Monarch waystation if the right native plants are used. You can help the Native Plant Society, USFWS, and TxDOT create Monarch butterfly waystations in rest areas along I-35 in the migration corridor.
Two matching safety rest areas in Hill County, just south of Hillsboro, were selected to kick off the I-35 Rest Areas Monarch Waystations Project. These Monarch Waystations will be established in 2,000 sq. ft. of existing landscaping beds near the Visitor’s Center. Volunteers have already begun removing existing plants and landscape fabric in the east side rest area (northbound side of I-35). This site was chosen for the Welcome the Monarchs! Field Day, October 13, 2016, which is the day we will start planting the waystation. To access the northbound rest area in Hill County from the north, travel south on I-35 and take exit 356, cross over the freeway and get back on I-35 going north and take exit 362A to the northbound rest area. You can only access the rest areas from the freeway and the entrance ramp at exit 358 is closed for construction, which is why you need to exit at 356 and come back around. Coming from the south, just take exit 362A to access the northbound rest area.
The southbound rest area in Hill County will also be prepared for establishment of a Monarch Waystation. You can reach the southbound rest area from north of the rest area by taking exit 362A. From south of the rest area, go north on I-35, take exit 364A, cross over the freeway and get back on I-35 south and take exit 362A. Planting of the southbound rest area (west side of the freeway) will kick off on October 16, 2016.
Two matching rest areas in Bell County, in Salado, just north of Jarrell, Texas will also be the sites of Monarch Waystations. These Monarch Waystations will be established in 1,000 sq. ft. of existing landscaping beds near the Visitor’s Center. Work on these rest areas will begin when the Hill County Rest Areas Monarch Waystations are completed.
Hill County Safety Rest Area Monarch Waystation
Hill County Master Gardeners and Heart of Texas Master Naturalists will be joining us on the October 13th Welcome the Monarchs! Field Day as well as workdays scheduled prior to and after the event. You do not need to be a symposium participant to volunteer.
More volunteer workdays will be scheduled in the spring to plant plants that we were not able to acquire in fall. This project has been approved for Texas Master Naturalist volunteer hours by the East Texas chapter. Other chapters may also be willing to approve it for volunteer hours.
The following days have been scheduled prior to the October 13th Welcome the Monarchs! Field Day and you are invited to join us to contribute to this beneficial project. Please RSVP if you’d like to come to one of the workdays, so that we can be sure to tell you at which location in Hill County we will be working that day.
Sunday, September 18, 2016
Wednesday, September 21, 2016
Saturday, September 24. 2016
Wednesday, September 28, 2016
Saturday, October 1, 2016
Wednesday, October 5, 2016
Saturday, October 8, 2016
Wednesday, October 12, 2016
Thursday, October 13, 2016
Sunday, October 16, 2016
I-35 Rest Areas Monarch Waystations Chair