In June of this year, Toyota Motor North America (TMNA) announced a new collaboration as the Official Automotive Partner of the National Scenic Byway Foundation. Included in Toyota’s support was funding for the inaugural year of the National Scenic Byway Foundation “Love Our Byways” micro-grant program, which funds nonprofit byway organizations “to organize conservation and beautification programs that will be amplified by grassroots volunteers.”
The Route 66 Monarch Flyway initiative, co-managed by the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway and the Illinois Monarch Project, was awarded $2000 for adding Monarch-friendly plants, including Milkweed, to numerous planters and sidewalk bump-outs in the downtown area that will be used by the endangered Monarch butterfly population for food. Dozens of volunteers began the beautification project in advance of the 2021 International Mother Road Festival. The project will be completed before the Friday kickoff events for the festival. The Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway/Route 66 Monarch Flyway will also have a booth at the Mother Road Festival this Saturday with information for the public about the project and how Illinois residents can participate. Also contributing to the project is Green Toyota of Springfield, who will have a Toyota Sienna Hybrid minivan on display at the booth. The International Mother Road Festival is this weekend, September 24-26. Saturday, September 25th, is also National Public Lands Day.
Springfield resident and Route 66 Monarch Flyway member, Susan Helm, is the volunteer coordinator for the planting phase of the project. Through her efforts, she has brought together the team of community volunteers interested in pollinator gardens, including a number of master gardeners and master naturalists from the area. In addition to city sidewalks, many local businesses also offered their locations for the plantings, including Springfield CVB Visitors Center, Maldaner’s Restaurant, Obed & Isaac’s Microbrewery, Custom Cup, Kidzeum, Wild Rose, Hair of the Dog and Carpenter Street Hotel.
The Route 66 Monarch Flyway, which the Illinois Monarch Project debuted on November 18th, 2020, is a 66-mile-wide corridor that stretches from Chicago to St. Louis across the state of Illinois. The project is seeking to bring the unique aspect of Route 66 to Illinois’ efforts to the help the monarch butterfly by planting native wildflowers and restoring habitat projects within the corridor. One of the goals of this effort is to bring together all aspects of life in Illinois, which are represented in the four sectors of the Illinois Monarch Project (IMP) – Urban, Agriculture, Rights-of-Ways and Natural Lands. The IMP collaborates with public and private partners, in addition to individuals across the state, to protect and enhance existing habitat and establish new habitat that supports monarch butterflies and other pollinators. More info at: https://illinoisroute66.org/route-66-monarch-flyway/.
The Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway/Route 66 Monarch Flyway would like to offer special thanks to all the volunteers, the International Mother Road Festival, the National Scenic Byway Foundation, Toyota Motor North America, Green Toyota of Springfield and the Illinois Monarch Project.