A local Boy Scout creating a favorable habitat for migrating monarch butterflies as an Eagle project received the endorsement of the Salem Town Board Monday evening.
Evan Kirsch said he would like to convert about an acre in the passive area of Salem’s Community Park along 256th Avenue for the butterfly garden. The idea was to find a spot that was not particularly accessible to the public so as not to disturb the butterflies too much.
“We want it to be somewhere out of the way,” Kirsch said. There is, however, a gazebo on the property that overlooks the proposed butterfly area.
Eagle Scout candidates need to complete a community service project as part of their quest to obtain the highest rank in Scouting.
Kirsch is proposing to remove any large objects from the space with the help of other Scouts. Then a controlled burn will be conducted under the direction of fire Chief Mike Slover to clear the ground of all vegetation. The soil will then be cultivated and layered with fresh dirt. Seeds and live plants will be planted in mid May. Some watering may be needed for the site until the plants establish themselves.
Plants Kirsch plans to obtain for the project include: Joe Pye weed, meadow blazingstar, prairie blazingstar, bee balm, New England aster, purple coneflower, verbena and three types of milkweed — butterfly weed, common and swamp.
Kirsch will provide all labor and any materials needed for the project. He is applying for a grant and also will be seeking donations of plants and other materials. Kirsch plans to include some benches for vieiwing in the project.
Ultimately, Kirsch would like the project to qualify for a national program that recognizes “Monarch Waystations,” which are places that help sustain the migration of monarch butterflies between Mexico and Canada.
Monarchs “are becoming endangered because of loss of habitat, so this is a conservation project,” Kirsch said.
The project was approved unanimously by the Town Board Monday. It still must be approved by the Parks Board.
Once approved, Kirsch plans to get started on the project right away and complete the preparation and planting this spring.