On Tuesday, former First Lady Laura Bush, founder of Texan by Nature, joined with the directors of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), and the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center to hold a news conference at BAE Systems, Inc. in east Austin to celebrate the fall migration of monarch butterflies and to announce new collaborations in the state’s efforts to conserve pollinator habitat in Texas.
BAE Systems is one of the first corporations signed on to Texan by Nature’s Monarch Wrangler program, which provides Texas employers and organizations with results-oriented and meaningful ways to get involved by creating habitat essential to the monarch butterfly.
Mrs. Bush opened the event by tracing the history of Texan by Nature. “A few years ago, I helped to found Texan by Nature with a group of friends and committed conservationists. Today, our vision of strong partnerships between the business, conservation, and scientific communities for the betterment of our precious natural resources has truly come to life,” she said.
According to the organizations involved, this collaboration is especially critical in addressing the plight of the monarch butterfly, whose rapidly declining population over the last two decades has alarmed experts due to the importance of pollinators to our ecological and economic vitality.
“For Texas to remain a thriving central flyway for monarch butterflies, we must come together to conserve and create essential habitat along their migration route – the I-35 corridor just outside these doors; and we must support further research to identify the causes and solutions for their decline,” explained the former First Lady.
“That means planting pollinator-friendly plants, like native Texas milkweed, in our school yards, at places of worship, on corporate campuses, on our ranches and farms, and in our own back yards,” she added, reiterating that all Texans can join the cause by applying to become a Monarch Wrangler on the Texan by Nature website. Private landowners can also manage for pollinators and receive special tax valuations on their properties.
As one of the early pilot projects in the Monarch Wrangler system, BAE Systems has already made significant progress in creating new monarch habitat in the flyway. Stephen Ford, Program Director at the BAE Austin Business Center detailed how the company has removed invasive species, planted natives, begun collecting rainwater, implemented mobile irrigation, and has engaged employees in conservation with education kits and seedball-making activities.
Mrs. Bush, and all contributing organizations present at the conference hope that more companies will soon follow suit, enhancing Texas’ already impressive track record in the field of conservation