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Stream Monitoring

MiCorps’ Volunteer Stream Monitoring Program (VSMP) provides technical assistance, training, and grants to volunteer stream monitors in Michigan to ensure that they are collecting reliable, high-quality data.

Technical Assistance

Volunteers from the Flint River Watershed Coalition identify macroinvertebrates collected from their spring monitoring training session.
Volunteers from the Flint River Watershed Coalition identify macroinvertebrates collected during their spring monitoring training session.

Stream Monitoring Documents: Visit our stream monitoring documents webpage to find everything you need to get started in volunteer monitoring, including suggested equipment and other tips. More resources on volunteer monitoring can be found throughout the site.

MiCorps-News Listserv: The MiCorps-News listserv is an excellent resource for volunteer monitoring in Michigan. Sign up today to receive news and announcements geared toward volunteer monitoring program leaders, volunteers, and resource professionals on monitoring and water quality issues in Michigan.

Contact Us: MiCorps staff are always available to answer your questions. Feel free to call or email us anytime.

Education and Training

Training Events and Materials: The MiCorps program offers training opportunities for both current and aspiring MiCorps volunteers. The MiCorps stream volunteer training focuses on monitoring stream habitat and macroinvertebrates. A separate training is held for Road/Stream Crossing Inventory methods.

MiCorps Conference: The annual MiCorps conference, typically held in late fall, provides education and training opportunities for volunteer monitors and program leaders.

Grant Programs

The VSMP includes a competitive grants program for water quality monitoring in wadeable streams and rivers under four different topical areas:

  • Aquatic Macroinvertebrate Survey Grants:  provide funding and support to volunteer monitoring organizations interested in monitoring the benthic macroinvertebrate communities and habitat characteristics in their streams and rivers.

Insect identification photo
VSMP grant recipients practice their insect ID skills at the 2014 stream monitoring training session.

The Aquatic Macroinvertebrate Survey Grants support volunteer work to monitor benthic macroinvertebrate communities and habitat characteristics in wadeable streams and rivers. The grants may be used to fund a local monitoring coordinator and/or purchase water quality monitoring supplies. MiCorps will provide training to grant recipients, and the data will be used by the Michigan DEQ as a screening tool to identify sites requiring a more detailed assessment and as supplemental data for DEQ water resources management programs.

Local units of government and nonprofit entities are eligible to receive grant funding. Additional eligibility criteria may apply. Nonprofit entities are those exempt from taxation under section 501(c)(3) of the internal revenue code. Grants under this funding area typically range from $8,000 to $14,000 for two-year projects.

Read more about the previously funded VSMP Aquatic Macroinvertebrate Survey projects.

The grant application process for the 2017 VSMP Aquatic Macroinvertebrate Survey grant cycle has now ended. Future grant applicants may view the 2017 Grant Application Package (GAP) as a resource to read more about the application process. Please check back in early 2018 for more information on the next grant cycle.

  • Aquatic Macroinvertebrate Survey Start-up Grants:  provide funding and support to assist start-up groups in designing a volunteer monitoring strategy for their community.

Volunteers from Northern Michigan University collect samples from Dexter Creek in Alger County.
Volunteers from Northern Michigan University collect samples from Dexter Creek in Alger County.

MiCorps typically sets aside a portion of the available VSMP funds each year as “seed money” for newly forming volunteer monitoring groups in the form of Aquatic Macroinvertebrate Survey Start-Up Grants. These start-up funds are intended for individuals and communities that want to get involved in aquatic macroinvertebrate and stream habitat monitoring in wadeable streams and rivers, but do not have a volunteer program to build on and are not sure where to begin.

The goal of the start-up grant program is to support groups in planning a volunteer monitoring program, designing a monitoring strategy, and submitting a full proposal for a future VSMP Aquatic Macroinvertebrate Survey grant cycle that includes this plan and strategy. Start-up grant recipients will also have access to MiCorps resources.

During the period of this one-year grant, start-up grant recipients will address such questions as: 1) why volunteer monitoring would benefit their community; 2) how they want to use the data; 3) where they need to start monitoring; 4) who will supervise scientific aspects of the monitoring program; 5) how they will recruit and retain volunteers; 6) whether the monitoring program will be coordinated under an existing organization or a new organization will be formed; and 7) what financial resources will support their monitoring program over the long term.

All interested individuals or small groups are encouraged to apply, but applications must come from a local unit of government or a nonprofit organization (as the fiduciary agent) to be eligible to receive grant funding. Additional eligibility criteria may also apply. Ineligible entities include for-profit, other professional institutions, or unaffiliated individuals or groups. Grants under this funding area should not exceed $3,000 for one-year projects.

Read more about the previously funded VSMP Aquatic Macroinvertebrate Start-up Survey projects.

The grant application process for the 2017 VSMP Aquatic Macroinvertebrate Survey Start-up grant cycle has now ended. Future grant applicants may view the 2017 Grant Application Package (GAP) as a resource to read more about the application process. Please check back in early 2018 for more information on the next grant cycle.

  • Road/Stream Crossing Inventory Grants:  provide funding and support to volunteer monitoring organizations interested in assessing the condition of road/stream crossings to protect and enhance streams throughout a target watershed.

Timberland RC&D volunteers receive training from DNR staff to conduct road/stream crossing inventories in the Buck Creek watershed.
Timberland RC&D volunteers receive training from DNR staff to conduct road/stream crossing inventories in the Buck Creek watershed.

The Road/Stream Crossing Inventory Grants were added to the VSMP in 2015, and will assist volunteer monitoring groups in establishing a volunteer-based program in which volunteers visit and assess the condition of road/stream crossings to protect and enhance streams throughout a target watershed. MiCorps will provide training to grant recipients, and the data will be entered into a publicly available database and used by various agencies as a screening tool. Local units of government and nonprofit entities are eligible to receive grant funding. Nonprofit entities are those exempt from taxation under section 501(c)(3) of the internal revenue code. Grant requests under this funding area should not exceed $8,500 for 13-month projects.

Read more about the previously funded VSMP Road/Stream Crossing Inventory projects.

The grant application process for the 2017 VSMP Road/Stream Crossing Inventory grant cycle has now ended. Future grant applicants may view the 2017 Grant Application Package (GAP) as a resources to read more about the application process. Please check back in early 2018 for more information on the next grant cycle.

  • Stream Flow Monitoring Pilot Project Grants:  provide funding and support to entities to establish volunteer-based programs in which staff and volunteers determine the total water flow (discharge) of small streams.

MiCorps will not be awarding any grants under the VSMP Stream Flow Monitoring funding area in 2017. Please check back in early 2018 for more information on whether this grant program will be available next year. Future grant applicants may view the 2016 Grant Application Package (GAP) as a resource to read more about the application process.

The Stream Flow Monitoring Pilot Project grants were a new one-time opportunity in 2016 to assist volunteer monitoring groups in establishing a volunteer-based program in which staff and volunteers determine the total water flow (discharge) of small streams. Flow monitoring is important for determining the basic ecological function of a stream, potential disruptions to biota and habitat, and nutrient loading. MiCorps provided training to the grant recipients, and the monitoring data will be utilized as a screening tool to identify locations where additional data may be needed to verify or modify the stream index flows used in the Water Withdrawal Assessment Tool. Depending on the success of this pilot program and availability of funding, this new monitoring program may be offered as part of the VSMP in future years.

Local units of government and nonprofit entities were eligible to receive grant funding. Nonprofit entities are those exempt from taxation under section 501(c)(3) of the internal revenue code. There was a maximum dollar amount of $7,500 per grant award for 12-month pilot projects under this funding area.

Read more about the 2016 funded VSMP Stream Flow Monitoring Pilot projects.

More Information

Volunteer Stream Monitoring Grant Program Brochure (tri-fold style for 8.5 x 11 paper)

If you have any questions about the grant program or applying for a grant, please contact Paul Steen (psteen@hrwc.org) or subscribe to our listserv to receive announcements and updates on these grant programs.

 
Volunteer Stream Monitoring Program

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Program administered by the Great Lakes Commission and supported by funding from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.
This is not an official State of Michigan/DEQ website.


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