Illinois Tollways To Become Butterfly Sanctuaries

By Chuck Sudo in News on Jan 29, 2015 10:40PM

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Photo credit: bradhoc

Drives on the Illinois Tollway's roads will become excursions in nature in the near future after the Tollway Authority board agreed to work the Natural Resources Defense Council to create a monarch butterfly restoration program along the Tollway network.

The monarch butterfly (pictured) is Illinois' state insect but the species is in trouble; since the mid-1990s scientists have noted significant population declines in monarch butterflies in their winter habitat of Mexico.

Industrial agriculture is seen as one cause for the drop in butterfly numbers—pesticides on genetically modified crops have killed off milkweed plants monarch rely on for survival. The agreement between the Tollway Authority and NRDC involves planting milkweed along the Tollway's 286 miles of roadways. NRDC attorney Rebecca Riley said "finding places to replant the monarch’s essential food source is key to keeping them around” and planting milkweed along Interstate 90, Interstate 88 and I-294 is a good faith effort by the Tollway Authority.