Habitat Overview

Our Objective

MRP seeks to rebuild native habitat on public and private land to levels sufficient to sustain pollinator populations, including the monarch butterfly.

We currently are focusing our efforts on a specific geography — Linn County, Iowa – but our future efforts will expand to other communities and counties.


One-third of the food humans consume is dependent on pollinators, according to a 2006 international study. Pollinators are essential to $24 billion in agricultural crops each year and more than 180,000 plant species.

They are critically important to a healthy ecosystem, since most flowering plants require help from pollinators to produce food or seed.

Yet their homes and food sources have disappeared and won’t return. Nearly 24 million acres of natural habitat had been converted to crop production between the years of 2008 and 2011.

Our Native Habitat Programs

MRP’s habitat efforts reverse these disturbing trends by returning pollinator-friendly habitat, often on land that hasn’t been productive. With just our public land initiatives in Linn County, MRP expects to exceed Iowa State University’s necessary milkweed stem count to provide the habitat required to sustain monarchs.

MRP’s partnership with researchers at Iowa State University is essential to our efforts to expand pollinator habitat. Together, we pilot ideas, culling those that don’t meet our measures for success while documenting what does work.

We’ve dubbed our habitat efforts Pollinator Zones™ (PZs), which involve large and small tracts on both private and public land.

     Our Native Habitat programs include:

Marion Native Tree Right of Way Enrichment Pilot

Hiawatha Right-0f-Way Tree Restoration Program

         Cedar Rapids Right-of-Way Pilot Program

Monarch Research (MR), has partnered with the City of Marion and the City of Hiawatha to provide residents and landowners, subject to ROW easements, with native Iowa trees to replace trees lost during the 2020 derecho, and to establish new growth in areas that were previously vacant.

These programs are open to Marion and Hiawatha residents and landowners/businesses who are subject to a Right-of-Way (ROW) easement

1,000 Acre Plan

This public-private endeavor is a partnership with the City of Cedar Rapids, City of Marion, and Linn County. Our goal was to restore 1,000 acres of public land in parks, trails and golf courses to rich pollinator habitat by 2020. This goal has been exceeded and we continue to work forward. MRP provides funding for seed and other supplies.

1,000 Mile Pilot

This partnership with Linn County Secondary Roads will convert 1,000 miles of roadside Rights of Way to pollinator habitat by 2022. Ditches are mowed, sprayed, and air-seeded by MRP employees, then maintained by county employees. County roadsides make up 46 percent of public lands in Iowa, and there are 2,200 ditch miles in Linn County alone.

Planting Forward

Monarch Research’s Planting Forward program recognizes landowners and stewards who convert inactive land to “living landscapes” consisting of native, pollinator-friendly, plants and trees.   Check out this program and hear how you can join Linn County’s “Planting Forward” movement by creating a Pollinator Zone on your land!

Linn Landowner Forum

Our annual Linn Landowner Forum is a special event – truly a call to action for property owners interested in conservation.  In addition to keynote speeches from nationally renowned habitat restoration leaders, our Forum connects landowners with experts and vendors who can provide guidance on restoring natural areas to create “green infrastructure”.