Milkweed, the sole food source for monarch butterfly caterpillars, blooms June 24, 2021, at the edge of the Prairie Pollinator Zone in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The prairie is being destroyed to make way for an industrial railyard for ag giant Cargill. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa – Destruction of a large-scale prairie pollinator zone in Cedar Rapids began this week, coinciding with international Pollinator Week.

Dragonflies, bees, birds, skippers and swallowtail and monarch butterflies could be seen flitting among the native wildflowers blooming in the 28-acre prairie at Stewart Road and Otis Avenue SE on Thursday, June 24, 2021, as trucks began rolling across the land to create a railyard for ag giant Cargill.

A swallowtail butterfly alights on milkweed in the Prairie Pollinator Zone, which will soon be wiped out in Cedar Rapids. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

Pollinator Week, from June 21-27 celebrates bees and other at-risk pollinators that are vital to the food supply and ecosystems.

Milkweed, the sole food source for monarch butterfly caterpillars, is abundant in the prairie pollinator zone and during this time of year, monarchs are busy laying their eggs on the plants, which will soon be destroyed at the site.

This isn’t the first time an ironic choice was made on the Cargill project. On Earth Day, trees were removed from the site to prepare for the 12-track, 200-car industrial railyard, next to the Prairie Park Fishery.

Related: Cedar Rapids celebrates Earth Day while destroying nature

Neighbors gathered to witness the end of the prairie, which offered respite not only for nearby residents, but other visitors, including cyclists, runners and regulars at the popular fishery.

Neighbors gather June 24, 2021, as machinery moves in to begin destroying the Prairie Pollinator Zone in Cedar Rapids. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

Ignoring outcry from neighbors and nature lovers, the Cedar Rapids City Council voted in 2019 to rezone the property from suburban residential large lot to general industrial, and approved a development agreement that will allow the multinational company to operate the railyard 12 hours every day, 365 days per year.

More: Judge rules in Cargill land use dispute

The land sits in a floodplain in the modest-income residential Rompot neighborhood, which was hit hard by both last year’s derecho and the unprecedented 2008 flood, giving rise to further flooding concerns.

An appeal of a judge’s ruling remains pending. Last year, Sixth Judicial District Judge Mary Chicchelly denied a petition by nearby residents Kate Hogg and state Sen. Rob Hogg, who argued that the city’s Future Land Use Map amendment, at Cargill’s request, violated the city’s own Flood Control System Master Plan and comprehensive plan, among other issues.

The two were later backed by six members of the Protect the Prairie Park Corridor non-profit corporation in the petition against the city.

See photos of the Prairie Pollinator Zone from last summer.

State Sen. Rob Hogg watches June 24, 2021, as equipment moves into place at the Prairie Pollinator Zone. (photo/Cindy Hadish)
Fenceposts are installed along the edge of the Prairie Pollinator Zone as construction begins on Cargill’s industrial railyard. (photo/Cindy Hadish)
Black-eyed Susan and other wildflowers begin to bloom in the Prairie Pollinator Zone. (photo/Cindy Hadish)
Work begins on Cargill’s industrial railyard in what had been a residential area of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. (photo/Cindy Hadish)
Heavy equipment moves into place June 24, 2021, to transform the Prairie Pollinator Zone in Cedar Rapids into an industrial railyard for Cargill. (photo/Cindy Hadish)