Volunteers take part in MCD spring stream monitoring

Chelsea Cooper and Dwight Lewis collect material from Fletcher Creek on Saturday during the Manistee Conservation District's spring stream monitoring event. (Chelsea Cooper/Manistee Conservation District/Courtesy photo)

Chelsea Cooper and Dwight Lewis collect material from Fletcher Creek on Saturday during the Manistee Conservation District’s spring stream monitoring event. (Chelsea Cooper/Manistee Conservation District/Courtesy photo)

MANISTEE — Despite the rain on Saturday, many volunteers took to the outdoors as part of the Manistee Conservation District Spring Stream Monitoring event.

Volunteers pulled on waders, gathered buckets and nets, and headed into the field to continue the ongoing process of collecting aquatic macro-invertebrates. The purpose of this exercise is to monitor changes in water quality. The data collected is used to help assess the extent of environmental impairment often caused by pollutants, according to Susan Spencer, MCD administrator.

The Manistee Conservation District (MCD) has been conducting the Volunteer Stream Monitoring events twice a year since fall 2016 through grant funding from the Michigan Clean Water Corps (MiCorps), in order to collect data that tests the quality of

Volunteers examine macro-invertebrates at Fletcher Creek during the Manistee Conservation District's spring stream monitoring event. (Chelsea Cooper/Manistee Conservation District/Courtesy photo)

Volunteers examine macro-invertebrates at Fletcher Creek during the Manistee Conservation District’s spring stream monitoring event. (Chelsea Cooper/Manistee Conservation District/Courtesy photo)

water in the Lower Manistee River Watershed, said Spencer.

“In late 2017, the Manistee CD published its first findings with respect to water quality at the nine sites where our macro-invertebrate sampling is taking place,” Spencer said.

The data is preliminary, but Spencer said “it is important to continue collections twice a year for at least three years to establish a baseline, which will then allow for a more reliable baseline and a larger sampling size.

“In the coming years, data generated from this project will help the Manistee CD track the relative health of the Lower Manistee River Watershed, identify specific problem areas, observe site changes over time, and compare sites to one another.”

Spencer said the continuation of the program is dependent on funding from the MiCorps program, which is set to expire in September.

“The funds that the DEQ designated for MiCorps come from the Clean Michigan Initiative, a bond that Michigan voters supported 20 years ago,” according to Dr. Jo Latimore, Outreach Specialist in the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife at Michigan State University Extension.

The bond has expired, and Gov. Rick Snyder has proposed a “Renew Michigan’s Environment” funding approach to replace the Clean Michigan Initiative to ensure funding for MiCorps, said Latimore. However, a decision has not yet been made.

Because the contract to maintain MiCorps ends Sept. 30, no new programs were funded this year, Latimore said.

“With no funding currently available, this means that there will be no further support for any of the thousands of volunteers and local organization staff who are monitoring the health of their lakes and streams,” she said.

MiCorps was established in 2003 to bring together Michigan’s existing Cooperative Lakes Monitoring Program and Volunteer Stream Monitoring Grants Programs for the purpose of assisting the DEQ in collecting and sharing water quality data for use in water resources management and protection programs.

Information for this report was provided by the Manistee Conservation District.

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