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Eaton County Collaborative Stream Monitoring Program Receives Additional Funding for Sampling Local Water Quality

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Olivet College, in partnership with the Eaton Conservation District (ECD), has received a $16,391 Stream Monitoring Implementation Grant from the Michigan Clean Water Corps (MiCorps). The grant will support the newly established Eaton County Collaborative Stream Monitoring Program.

The monitoring program consists of stream sites throughout Eaton County within the Upper Thornapple River watershed, part of the large Grand River watershed that eventually flows to Lake Michigan. Erin Pavloski, assistant professor of environmental science at Olivet College, is excited about the program’s future. “Water connects us all – we need clean water and healthy streams to support life. This program helps us collect important data each year and helps raise awareness about water quality. We just held the program’s pilot this spring, and being able to host community members as community scientists in the program has been wonderful. Working together at the stream sites has been a great learning experience for all involved.”

Sue Spagnuolo, executive director of ECD, is inspired by the outcome of the pilot program. “This partnership is a wonderful example of ECD’s mission. Bringing together community members and college students is a shining example of ‘promoting and encouraging cooperation with individuals, groups organizations, or agencies in an organized effort to conserve and improve the natural resources in Eaton County.’ I am proud of the students and community scientists who participated in the pilot program and I look forward to seeing this unique partnership grow.”

The annual program samples sites for macroinvertebrates (aquatic larval stage insects and other species) in the Thornapple watershed across Eaton County each spring and fall. The number and variety of macroinvertebrates collected at each site can indicate overall stream health and water quality. The program contributes data to a statewide database that provides important information to conservation districts and other natural resource organizations in watershed planning and management efforts.

The design of the monitoring program focuses on cooperative learning and building relationships between community scientists and students. Through this collaborative structure, the program is designed for ongoing engagement of community scientists and longevity in collecting macroinvertebrate and habitat data throughout the county, and aims to achieve the following goals:

  1. Provide new and continuous macroinvertebrate collection and habitat assessment data that will assist in assessing the success of any restoration projects and updating the watershed management plan;
  2. Educate and collaboratively engage Eaton County residents, students and other stakeholders in monitoring, upholding quality and protecting water resources; and
  3. Identify or verify problem areas where degradation has occurred and where future remediation efforts or best management practices can be implemented.

If you are interested in participating in stream monitoring events through the Eaton County Collaborative Stream Monitoring Program, email Rachel Cuschieri-Murray, Eaton Conservation District environmental outreach coordinator, to be placed on a contact list for future events.

Since 1844, Olivet College continues to strive to provide its students with rewarding educational experiences that will gain them the knowledge and skills for success in their future careers. The college and the natural sciences and mathematics department value cooperative learning experiences, volunteerism, and building partnerships within local communities. Olivet College offers biology and environmental science majors and minors, and students will greatly benefit from participation in this collaborative stream monitoring program.

Since 1946, the Eaton Conservation District has been a unique local unit of government that provides natural resource management services, utilizing state, federal and private sector resources to solve today’s conservation challenges. Its services include protecting groundwater, watershed planning, woodland and wildlife improvements, agricultural programming, soil health information, stream bank stabilization, conserving and restoring wetlands, and providing tree seedlings, conservation books and information workshops.

MiCorps was established by the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy and is administered by Michigan State University, in partnership with the Michigan Lakes and Streams Association and Huron River Watershed Council.

To learn more about Olivet College, contact the Office of Admission at 800-456-7189 or admissions@olivetcollege.edu.

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