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Volunteer Stream Monitoring Program

Come join us each spring and fall as we partner with the professionals at Van Buren Conservation District to sample for aquatic macroinvertebrates (insects and insect larvae) in the Paw Paw and Black River Watersheds. As a group, these aquatic insects serve as indicator species helping us measure the health of these rivers. It is also, just fun to get your feet wet and explore the rivers up and close with like-minded community scientists.

Advocating for the Paw Paw and Black River Watershed is what we do, and good quality data helps us do that. Following statewide procedures developed by Michigan Clean Water Corps (MiCorps), we will measure the rivers health and add to the statewide database year after year to monitor long-term trends. This allows us to make informed decisions based on good quality data benchmarked across the state. 

Joins us as we build that database for the Paw Paw and Black Rivers! No experience necessary.

Tentative Sampling Dates: Spring- first Sunday in May, Fall- first Sunday in October

Follow TRC and/or Van Buren Conservation District on Facebook for specific details each season. 

2015-2022 (spring) Summary Update:

Overall Mean MiCorp Total Score= 33.4 (Fair), Median= 33.0 (Fair), Min= 13.1, Max= 60.6

MiCorp Sites Map

Summary by Site:

MiCorp Site Summary

Summary by Season:

MiCorp Season Summary

Previous Years Reports:

2016 Volunteer Stream Monitoring Program Morning Training & Collection

Sunday, October 2, 2016, Lawrence River Park, Van Buren County



Volunteers gathered together at 9am to learn about the Volunteer Steam Monitoring Program and Insect Collections in the Paw Paw and Black River Watershed, Van Buren County. Two Rivers Coalition and Van Buren Conservation District introduced their board members and staff and gave a short update of their organization.

Individuals were divided into six teams, assigned a team leader and sent off to their designated locations with the proper equipment.





Monday, October 4, 2016 - Van Buren Conservation District


The following day, volunteers met at the Van Buren Conservation District office to sort and identify species from each collected site. Each Team had a table with tools and equipment to help sort, identify and assess the quantity of the species found at that specific site. Photos were taken of specimens and water quality was assessed by counting the sensitive, somewhat sensitive and toler-ant species found.

**New: October 2016 Fall VSMP Collection Report**


        TRC Partner!


                      stonefly.jpg                     dameselfy.jpg       

                         Stonefly                                     Dameselfly


              VSMP October 12, 2014 Event - Kevin Haight:


One of the most exciting projects that Two Rivers Coalition {TRC} was involved in this year was the Volunteer Stream Monitoring Program {VSMP}. TRC partnered with Van Buren Conservation District {VBCD} to apply for a start-up grant through the Michigan Clean Water Corps {MiCorps}. The goal of the program, which is funded by the Department of Environmental Quality {DEQ}, is to establish benthic macro-invertebrate sampling on streams throughout the state. Benthic macro-invertebrate sampling is just a fancy way to say catching insects that live in streams and recording the data. The presence {or absence} of certain families of insects is a surprisingly good indicator of water quality. This is because some insects {like stoneflies} will not tolerate degraded conditions. Stoneflies are considered sensitive and will only live in cold, clear, clean streams. Other insects {like the side-swimming scud} can live in almost any body of water.  Also, in keeping with the basic principle of biodiversity, the greater the variety of insect species in a river, the healthier the river eco-system is likely to be.

 ....Read more...Volunteer Stream Monitoring Article PDF 

Interview:  Two Rivers Coalition Collecting Insects From Paw Paw River




Macroinvertebrates as Bioindicators of Stream Health

Development Tool for Volunteer Stream Monitoring Program

Macro ID TipSheet

Macro Identification Key

Water Safety Thoughts for Volunteer Stream Monitoring




EPA Monitoring and Assessing Water Quality


Van Buren Conservation District


         TRC Partner!



This page last updated on 11/22/2022.