The Great Migration

The Village of Hamel’s President Larry Bloemker reached out to HeartLands Conservancy with an innovative idea. The Village’s original task was to provide landscaping for the new enclosed dog park on a village-owned parcel that sits along the MCT Quercus Grove Trail directly west of the wastewater treatment plant. However, the new dog park provides an opportunity – a beautification plan for users that helped the ecosystem and the pollinators. It is an opportunity to showcase native landscape and join the Route 66 Monarch Flyway –  a 66-mile-wide corridor that stretches predominantly north-south from Chicago to St. Louis, providing countless opportunities for habitat creation and enhancement along route 66. The Village transformed the project into the Proposed Route 66 Monarch Flyway & Dog Park habitat improvement project.

Under his direction, Heartlands Conservancy worked to create a site design once implemented would restore and enhance the native pollinator habitat while improving the aesthetic and wildlife value of the site. We developed a site concept to beautify the area for visitors and dogs alike specifying trees, shrubs, flowers, and plants to provide color, interest, and habitat improvements for migrating monarch butterflies and other pollinators and wildlife.

In the September 20, 2021 Monarch Conservation Spotlight: Route 66 Monarch Flyway, Erin Holmes and Casey Wichmann were interviewed about the Illinois Monarch Project Route 66 Monarch Flyway. They shared the beginnings and their vision.

“The concept of the Route 66 Monarch Flyway was introduced in the Illinois Monarch Action Plan, which was signed into action in September 2020. The Route 66 Monarch Flyway and other strategies identified in the Illinois Monarch Action Plan aim to add 150 million milkweed stems on Illinois landscapes by 2038. To achieve this goal, the IMP is engaging all-hands-on-deck by partnering with stakeholders across the agriculture, natural lands, rights-of-way, and urban sectors. The Route 66 Monarch Flyway is an initiative of the Illinois Monarch Project (IMP), the statewide collaborative committed to helping monarch butterflies thrive throughout Illinois. The Route 66 Monarch Flyway builds upon the historic and iconic Route 66 to provide a showcase for collaborative monarch habitat projects across a range of urban and rural landscapes.”

The project site was divided into seven management units based on the unique conditions and goals within the site. Each area has specified perennial trees, shrubs, and plants to attract monarchs and pollinators. Recommendations were provided for shade, safety to dogs and people, and to ease maintenance costs. The process included a Planting & Management Plan that addresses the installation and maintenance of these management units and can be divided into three broad categories: implementation, operation and management, and future recommendations.