Michigan Clean Water Corps leads the way in helping individuals protect and manage water resources

Technical assistance, training and grants offer a comprehensive set of resources needed to support volunteer stream monitoring efforts across the state.

Volunteers assess a road stream crossing for multiple concerns including whether it is barrier to fish and other aquatic organism movement, is it causing erosion, and what condition the culvert in. Photo credit: Clinton River Watershed Council.

Volunteers assess a road stream crossing for multiple concerns including whether it is barrier to fish and other aquatic organism movement, is it causing erosion, and what condition the culvert in. Photo credit: Clinton River Watershed Council.

The Michigan Clean Water Corps (MiCorps) is a network of volunteer monitoring programs, whose mission is “to network and expand volunteer water quality monitoring organizations statewide for the purposes of collecting, sharing and using reliable data; educate and inform the public about water quality issues; and foster water resources stewardship to facilitate the preservation and protection of Michigan’s water resources. It was created through Michigan Executive order #2003-15 to assist the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) in collecting and sharing water quality data needed to manage and protect Michigan’s water resources. MiCorps is administered by the Great Lakes Commission under the direction of the MDEQ. Partner agencies include the Huron River Watershed Council, Michigan Lake and Stream Associations, and Michigan State University.

MiCorps consists of two core volunteer monitoring programs: the Volunteer Stream Monitoring Program and the Cooperative Lakes Monitoring Program. Both programs provide technical assistance and other types of support such as grants and training to local units of government, nonprofit entities, and other volunteers around the state in the management of these initiatives.

The MiCorps Volunteer Stream Monitoring Program offers a great set of resources that are available on volunteer monitoring:

  • Technical assistance. A collection of resource documents includes comprehensive information on every aspect of volunteer stream monitoring, including details on how to sign up for the MiCorps-News Listserv to receive the latest news and announcements
  • Education and training. Regardless of whether an individual is already active in volunteer stream monitoring or simply considering getting involved, online training materials are available along with in-person training opportunities. Not to be missed is the annual MiCorps Conference held each Fall, which provides a diverse array of education and training for volunteer monitors and program leaders.
  • Grant programs. This competitive grants program helps to ensure Michigan volunteer stream monitors are collecting reliable, high-quality data. Three grant programs are currently available: Aquatic Macroinvertebrate Survey Grants, Aquatic Macroinvertebrate Survey Start-Up Grants, and Road/Stream Crossing Inventory Grants. Though the 2015 grant application process is now over, information about the 2016 grant cycle will be available in early 2016.

One organization awarded MiCorps’ Road-Stream Inventory grant funds for 2015-16 is the Clinton River Watershed Council (CRWC). These funds were awarded to CRWC’s volunteer monitoring efforts to help them assess the condition of road/stream crossings in both rural and suburban areas of the Stony Creek and Upper Clinton River sub watersheds in Oakland and Macomb counties. Their end goal is to identify priority areas for restoration and infrastructure improvements. Matt Einheuser, CRWC Aquatic Ecologist who is principal investigator on this grant, adds,”Grants like the ones provided through the MiCorp program not only helps us collect the valuable data needed to identify and prioritize areas that we will focus future efforts on, but it also enables us to expand our stewardship opportunities that we provide volunteers and allows citizens to have an active role in protecting our watershed”.

For those interested in inland lakes, visit the MiCorps website for complete information about MiCorps’ Volunteer Cooperative Lake Monitoring Program. For more information about either of the two MiCorps core volunteer monitoring program, a list of program contacts is available at the MiCorps website. More information about lakes, streams and watersheds can be found on the Michigan State University Extension website.

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