MRWA Seeks Volunteers to Conduct Water Monitoring

VOLUNTEER RESEARCHERS: Volunteers collect macroinvertebrates during MiCorps water monitoring training. (Courtest photo)
VOLUNTEER RESEARCHERS: Volunteers collect macroinvertebrates during MiCorps water monitoring training. (Courtest photo)

MICHIGAN – Did you know the bugs in your creek or stream can tell you how healthy it is? The Muskegon River Watershed Assembly (MRWA) is monitoring the health of the streams in the Muskegon River Watershed and is seeking assistance from volunteers to collect and identify these bugs in area streams.

In 2005, the MRWA received one of the first awards given by the Michigan Clean Water Corps (MiCorps) to train volunteers to conduct water monitoring and habitat assessments. Grant funding ended in 2007 but the MRWA Executive Board has pledged funding to continue the program through 2014.

The MRWA is seeking volunteers to participate in the program. On Saturday, August 18, 2012, a training session will be held at the Morley Village Hall, Morley. The training will begin at 8:45 a.m. and end around 4 p.m. and will be conducted by Ferris State University biology faculty member, Cindy Fitzwilliams-Heck. Registrations for the free training will be taken through Aug. 15.

Volunteers will be trained in macroinvertebrate (bug) identification and habitat classification, with the MRWA supplying the equipment and supplies. Volunteers will make a commitment to collect macroinvertebrates in the spring and fall of each year, record their information and return the data to the MRWA. The data will then be forwarded to the state MiCorps program to be used by the DEQ as a screening tool to identify sites requiring a more detailed assessment. This data will also be available to local government offices and other organizations to assist them in developing better local ordinances and formulating protective and restorative projects.

The MRWA is introducing a new Adopt-a-Stream program that requires its participants to be trained in MiCorps water monitoring protocol. Groups will adopt a portion of stream, conduct water monitoring in the spring and fall, and conduct at least one cleanup activity. The MRWA will then supply signage to be installed along the group's stretch of stream identifying the group.

The MRWA is dedicated to the preservation, protection, restoration, and sustainable use of the Muskegon River, the land it drains, and the life it supports, through educational, scientific, and conservation initiatives.

If you would like more information or would like to register for the training session, contact Terry Stilson at (231) 591-2324 or email her at mrwa@ferris.edu.