Tops for Pheasants & Pollinators, Honey Bee and Monarch Butterfly Partnership Targets Upland Habitat in the Dakotas

Pheasants Forever has partnered with Project Apis m. and Browning’s Honey to offer landowners in North Dakota and South Dakota a new conservation program, the Honey Bee and Monarch Butterfly Partnership, designed specifically to create native wildflower and grassland plots that positively influence upland bird, bee and butterfly populations.

The Honey Bee and Monarch Butterfly Partnership is forged out of a desire to create diverse, high-quality upland habitat, especially in the wake of recent grassland habitat loss in the Dakotas. Not only do North Dakota and South Dakota harbor the top two wild pheasant populations in the country, but they are two of the top three honey producing states. Honey producers and landowners are working side-by-side to promote this innovative program.

“This habitat program is designed to create phenomenal habitat for pheasants and other grassland-dependent species, habitat that will also increase populations of native pollinators,” says Pete Berthelsen, director of habitat partnerships for Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever. “Our seed mixes provide seasonal habitat for pollinating insects, which also creates a bug-rich environment for pheasant and quail broods - an essential component of any upland habitat management plan.”

Monarch butterflies and honey bees are also important resources for agricultural crops in terms of the pollination benefits offered for common household foods. These benefits are threatened by the continued loss of habitat throughout the Great Plains and the subsequent effects on pollinators. Eastern monarch butterfly populations, for example, have declined by 90 percent in the last two decades as a result of habitat loss and drought.

The Honey Bee and Monarch Butterfly Partnership sets a new standard for pollinator-friendly mixes, as they’ve been created beyond the current U.S. Department of Agriculture specifications. This, Berthelsen says, has allowed for the creation of improved, more affordable mixes that will yield better results for the targeted species. He says landowners who have less productive crop ground, land that may not quality for the Conservation Reserve Program (or other federal or state conservation programs), or small acreages looking for a boost in diverse wildlife habitat may find the program suits them well.

Landowner Enrollment Now Available

Funding for program enrollment is now available to landowners thanks to $300,000 in support from a broad coalition of commercial beekeepers, the honey packing industry, agricultural industry and Pheasants Forever. Program guidelines include, but are not limited to the following:

Pollinator habitat seeding mixtures will be provided in the program at no cost to landowners
Annual rental payments are available at a rate of $50.00 per acre
Planting incentive payments are available at a rate of $15.00 per acre
Landowners have the option of enrolling eligible acres for 3, 4, 5 or 6-year contracts
Funding and enrollment is ranked on a first-come, first-served basis with location emphasis
There is no official sign-up date, landowners are encouraged to apply now while funding is available

For more information about the Honey Bee and Monarch Butterfly Partnership, contact Pete Berthelsen at (308) 390-0848 /

About Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever

Pheasants Forever, including its quail conservation division, Quail Forever, is the nation's largest nonprofit organization dedicated to upland habitat conservation. Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever have more than 140,000 members and 700 local chapters across the United States and Canada. Chapters are empowered to determine how 100 percent of their locally raised conservation funds are spent; the only national conservation organization that operates through this truly grassroots structure.  Since creation in 1982, Pheasants Forever has spent $577 million on 475,000 habitat projects benefiting 10 million acres nationwide.

Media Contact
Jared Wiklund
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