Pollinator Habitat Enhancement Project and the River for Monarchs

Friends is teaming up with refuge staff and the River for Monarchs project headed by the Institute for Applied Ecology to restore twelve acres of habitat in support of monarch butterflies and other native pollinators!  This work is also being facilitated by a $58,000 Trails+ Grant from the New Mexico Economic Department’s Outdoor Division. Our goal is to increase and diversify native pollinator plant species present at the site currently known as the Observation Blind Trail on Bosque del Apache’s North Tour Loop.

Pollinators are important to all ecosystems, including the Rio Grande and Chihuahuan Desert ecosystems. They play a key role in plant reproduction by helping to spread plant pollen and maintaining species genetic diversity. Over 80% of plants world-wide require pollination by animals, mostly insects, to produce fruit and seeds. Native pollinator species are declining due to a hotter, drier climate and loss of habitat.

Through our collaboration with the Institute of Applied Ecology, we are doing our part to help protect monarch butterflies and other invaluable pollinator species. In addition to the site at Bosque del Apache, fifteen other stepping-stone habitat sites will be restored along the Rio Grande corridor and its major tributaries. Other sites in the project include Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge, NM Department of Game and Fish, Pueblo of Santa Ana, NM Department of Transportation Region 6, El Rancho de las Golondrinas, Carson National Forest, and Bureau of Land Management Taos Field Office.

Healthy pollinator habitats provide diverse food resources, particularly pollinator plants, and nesting sites that support and maintain pollinator populations. During the Fall of 2023, we planted over two hundred pollinator-friendly native shrubs and bushes as well as two species of milkweed (showy and broadleaf). In the Spring of 2024, we will seed the site with native wildflowers and in the Fall we will plant 2,500 milkweed and wildflower starts. We will also install additional accessible trails and interpretive signage to educate visitors about the amazing interaction between pollinators and plants as well as give access to the areas where pollinator enhancement is occurring. In addition, we will repurpose the old observation blind to create an accessible outdoor classroom space with an interpretive display. 

There will be many opportunities for volunteers to help us with this project, and we hope to involve YOU on YOUR refuge!  To get on the list for regular project updates and 2024 planting days please reach out to Desert Arboretum Manager Cari Powell at arboretum@friendsofbosquedelapache.org.










Photos from Restoration Site

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