Thursday, November 19, 2015

Partnership Assists Migrating Monarch Butterflies in Western North Carolina While Educating the Public

Chelsea Rath, an AmeriCorps Project Conserve member with the Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy, is already making a difference in the community she serves. Chelsea worked with a local landowner to plant a 382 plants, such as milkweed and Joe-Pye weed, on his property creating a way station for Monarch butterflies passing through Horse Shoe in Henderson County. 

Chelsea worked with Nina Veteto, the founder of Monarch Rescue, Tom Fanslow with the Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy and other AmeriCorps Project Conserve members to establish the patch of milkweed that will aid the monarchs during fall migration.

The habitat is located on property managed by Super-Sod, a sod farm in Horse Shoe, North Carolina. It is protected by a conservation easement on about 340 acres, and a buffer easement on about three miles of the French Broad River. The property includes a common area that is not currently being utilized and is mowed regularly into a lawn. “This area provided the perfect location to plant a pollinator habitat. As monarchs lose habitat around the country, it is important to create new areas for them to feed, mate, and grow,” said Ms. Rath.

Dave Shaffer, the property manager at Super-Sod, readily stepped forward to volunteer his assistance after hearing Ms. Veteto speak about the risks to monarchs and their need for habitat at the Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy Landowner Appreciation Picnic.

The project will become certified as a Monarch Way Station and will have educational signage on site in the future. This signage will educate on the life cycle of monarchs, their habitat needs, and their migration habits and will highlight the unique partnership created between Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy and Super-Sod through this project. This site will also serve as a milkweed repository to provide seeds to many different groups in the community as more pollinator patches are planted.

“In addition to providing an important habitat for Monarchs and other butterflies and fall nectar sources for migrating Monarchs, the project has become an incredible opportunity to involve the community and educate visitors about the need for these pollinator habitats and why they are so important,” said Ms. Rath.

Chelsea is among several AmeriCorps members with Project Conserve enrolled in the N.C. Environmental Education Certification Program. Two AmeriCorps programs in North Carolina, Project Conserve and Project GEOS (Growing Environmental Opportunities through Service), a program of the Conservation Trust for North Carolina, have members enrolled in the certification program.

For more information about AmeriCorps Project Conserve, visit or AmeriCorps Project GEOS, visit

For information about the N.C. Environmental Education Certification Program, visit