TYLER, Texas (KETK) – Nearly 450,000 acres were adopted in the Monarch Butterfly Candidate Conservation Agreement for Energy and Transportation Lands.

The agreement encourages transportation and energy partners to participate in monarch conservation by providing and maintaining habitat on millions of acres of rights-of-way and associated lands.

Texas has played an important role in monarch butterfly with colorful pollinators. The butterflies visit the state every fall and spring as they pass through breeding grounds in the north and their overwintering areas in Mexico.

Populations of the butterfly species have dropped by about 90% across the U.S., Canada and Mexico over the past 20 years.

Monarch butterflies and other pollinators were declining due to multiple factors, including habitat loss.

Partners who enroll in the agreement through a certificate of inclusion, like TxDOT and currently 15 others nationwide, will carry out conservation measures to reduce or remove threats to the species and create and maintain habitat annually.

Although the agreement focuses on monarch habitat, the conservation measures will also benefit several other species, especially pollinating insects.

In addition, if monarch butterflies are listed as endangered or threatened in the future, TxDOT will receive incidental take coverage on maintenance and modernization activities that fall substantially within existing right of way. 

Incidental take includes the unintentional harming, harassing or killing of a listed species and is prohibited under the ESA unless a permit is issued.