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Butterflies find refuge in sustainable, green Naperville

During late summer in the Midwest, it can feel as though the monarch butterfly is everywhere. That’s certainly the case at Monarch Landing, where resident gardens provide a home for the beautiful black-and-orange pollinators. The reality is, though, that the monarch butterfly is now an endangered species, according to the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature). Monarchs, which make a spectacular migration of more than 2,000 miles, are threatened by habitat loss and climate change. That means that each patch of natural habitat makes a meaningful difference. 

Thankfully, Monarch Landing and Naperville are havens for the environment and sustainable living. An incredible community asset, not far away on Knoch Knolls Road, is The Conservation Foundation, an organization dedicated to preserving and restoring natural areas and open space, protecting rivers and watersheds, and promoting stewardship of our environment. The Foundation’s first project was the preservation of Greene Valley Forest Preserve, a 1,388-acre parcel that’s home to more than 540 native plant species. Anyone can get involved with The Conservation Foundation through programs like the Green Earth Harvest program, an organic farming operation that offers fresh vegetables to those who purchase farm shares. The program also offers visitors the opportunity to visit and explore its working farm right in Naperville.

Another way to get involved is through Naperville’s official task force on environmental issues. The Naperville Environment & Sustainability Task Force (NEST) is a small group of citizens that works toward clean energy in Naperville. NEST encourages Naperville residents to do their part by reducing energy use: walking and biking instead of driving, reducing waste, and planting trees. The task force turns to volunteers to help educate businesses, citizens, and elected officials about the many ways to promote sustainability and a healthier environment. 

In addition to pollinator gardens, Monarch Landing residents enjoy plentiful bird habitat on the scenic 60-acre campus and the nearby Illinois Prairie Path. Indoors at The Springs healthcare and rehabilitation center, is an aviary and an aquarium stocked with numerous varieties of fish. The campus environs provide a natural complement to Naperville’s many attractions from its riverwalk to the Naper Settlement and much more.

The efforts of Monarch Landing residents, The Conservation Foundation, and NEST give us hope in a time when so many species are threatened. With a little bit of help from their friends, Monarchs will be with us for future generations to come.