SIRE launches Monarch fueling station project

By Iowa Renewable Fuels Association | February 23, 2018

On Feb. 23, Southwest Iowa Renewable Energy announced it will establish a Monarch fueling station on its property. SIRE, an ethanol plant near Council Bluffs, is the second Iowa biofuels facility to commit to creating monarch butterfly habitat.

A local farmer, Rick Frost, helped select two sites around the plant’s railcar loop track to cultivate monarch butterfly habitat, for a total of seven acres. The first seeding is expected to take place this spring.

“We saw creating a Monarch Fueling Station as a great opportunity to protect an important aspect of our state’s environment,” said SIRE CEO Brian Cahill. “The SIRE board views this as a win-win. We can provide critical habitat for monarchs and other pollinators instead of paying someone to mow grass. So why not take a little extra time to transform part of our land into something that can benefit Iowa for years to come? It’s also been a pleasant surprise to see how excited our staff and community are to take a small, but meaningful step to help maintain ecological diversity. We especially appreciate Rick’s efforts to get this process started.”

Because of their migratory patterns, monarchs need small patches of habitat throughout the state. Even a tenth of an acre can make a difference. Iowa’s ethanol and biodiesel plants are scattered across Iowa and also tend to have a lot of green space on their properties—making them excellent partners for this effort.

Kevin Reynolds, the Monarch fueling station habitat establishment coordinator, added: “We will work to help establish the original seeding, but after that it is our hope to connect each plant with experts in their local areas that can help guide the efforts for years to come. Iowa has the expertise and resources to make a meaningful impact and it’s exciting to see the biofuels producers step up and take a lead.”

The Monarch Fueling Station Project was established by the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association in partnership with the Iowa Monarch Conservation Consortium in December 2017. It is a program to help Iowa’s ethanol and biodiesel plants establish patches of monarch habitat on plant grounds. To learn more about the IRFA Monarch Fueling Station Project, contact IRFA at info@IowaRFA.org or 515-252-6249.