GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (AP) — Students from Grand Island Public Schools and local conservation groups are planning to create a four-acre monarch butterfly research habitat.

More than 30 students will help with the initial planting of the habitat beginning Thursday, said Central Platte Natural Resources District official Marcia Lee. The habitat is to be located on an easement of the Wood River Flood Control Project, the Grand Island Independent (http://bit.ly/2nNXEp0 ) reported.

Lee said the monarch butterfly population is decreasing at a rapid pace because of habitat loss, herbicide use and destruction of milkweed plants.

To address the loss of natural habitat, a coalition was formed to provide monarchs with food, water and shelter. The group includes Success Academy, Roots N' Shoots, Walnut Middle School, Pheasants Forever and the Nebraska Wildlife Federation, along with the Central Platte Natural Resources District.

Grand Island Public Schools official Ken DeFrank said the project involves students as part of a hands-on outdoor learning program.

"A lot of kids don't know what goes into planting," DeFrank said. "The whole idea of this is to grow this habitat. ... We are trying to build capacity to get kids out of the classroom and into the field doing live science data collection."

The plants are being provided by Pheasants Forever. Three-and-a-half acres will be planted by a seed drill, while the rest will be planted by hand.

Lee said the Central Platte resources district was able to provide the habitat area, a site that would also give public access to the project.

DeFrank hopes the habitat will be doing its job in attracting pollinators, like the monarch butterfly, by next fall.

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Information from: The Grand Island Independent, http://www.theindependent.com