Illinois coalition unveils comprehensive mowing guide for landowners

Landowners encouraged to leave space for pollinators to thrive

BLOOMINGTON – Pollinators, the busy bees behind the scenes, are essential for sustainability of our ecosystems and natural resources. A coalition of scientists and 11 organizations and agencies in Illinois have developed a mowing resource to help Illinois residents and land managers provide food for pollinators, who in turn do the same for us.

The Illinois Monarch Project (IMP) Mowing Guidance outlines recommendations for landowners and a variety of different land managers on mowing practices that best protect pollinators as they migrate through or live out their lives in Illinois.

“The IMP has been working very hard on articulating a long-range conservation plan for the monarch butterfly,” said Illinois Farm Bureau Associate Director of Natural and Environmental Resources Lyndsey Ramsey. “This guide is the first work product of the IMP Science Committee, and came in response to a lot of questions from farmers and the agriculture sector about how they can mow better to support pollinators. We even developed the second, more detailed document, Mowing on the Farm, to get into specifics about what farmers can do on their land.”

The Science Committee is comprised of biology and conservation experts that support the IMP in developing appropriate and effective conservation practices that will improve Illinois for monarch butterflies and other pollinators, in addition to other wildlife that benefit from the same habitat.

The Illinois Monarch Project (IMP) was established to bring together representatives of various sectors, including natural lands, rights-of-way, urban and agricultural sectors, as well as scientists and educators. The mission of IMP is to help monarch butterflies thrive throughout Illinois by collaborating on conservation activities and encouraging engagement by public and private landowners across diverse urban and rural landscapes.

“All of the sectors involved are trying to do the best we can for wildlife, and we believe this guide answers a lot of the questions surrounding pollinator-friendly mowing strategies for rural roadsides, habitat areas, working lands and urban yards and campuses,” said Sue Hargrove, Science Committee Chair and biologist at the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT).

Some of the main mowing concepts proposed by the Science Committee include:

  • Only mowing if necessary, and only for treatment of invasive species or woody encroachment
  • Mowing in “strips” – only mowing one-third of an area at a time to allow for more diversity and also refuge for wildlife
  • Articulating better mowing methods that benefit monarchs throughout the season, including fall migration

Groups involved in the Illinois Monarch Project Mowing Guidance and Mowing on the Farm Guidance include Illinois Corn Growers Association, Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Illinois Department of Transportation, Illinois Farm Bureau, Illinois Natural History Survey, Monarch Joint Venture, Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever, University of Illinois at Chicago,

USDA Farm Service Agency, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and United States Fish and Wildlife Service.

View both Mowing Guidance documents at

Working with scientists and releasing a mowing guidance document was a goal articulated by the agriculture sector in their Agriculture Action Plan for the monarch. Read more at


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