Photo by Peter Berthelsen, Conservation Bluespring LLC.
OPPD to expand monarch butterfly prairies
OPPD is working on plans to expand its Prairie in Progress project, a joint effort with the Save Our Monarchs Foundation.
The project began with a simple goal of reducing grounds maintenance costs. One way the team looked at was to increase biodiversity through planting native grasses and plants.
Public interest and community outreach drove OPPD to look at the plight of the monarch butterfly. That included looking at what kinds of habitat could help the species.
In 2018, OPPD started converting 325 acres of its property into natural butterfly habitat. OPPD volunteers spread seed mix at a site near the utility’s Nebraska City Station and the OPPD Arboretum at 108th and Blondo streets in Omaha.
It takes several seasons for the effects of the seeding to be noticeable.
Several OPPD substation sites will be transformed into prairie. Nine district sites are in the process of being restored to natural pollinator habitat.
Transforming areas into natural prairie saves the utility about $8,000 a year in maintenance costs. Erosion-control is a side benefit to adding prairie at these sites.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is considering whether to list the monarch as a threatened or endangered species.
The distinct orange and black butterfly used to be a common site in our area. Nebraska is in the middle of their migratory path to Mexico.