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Help make a difference on Michigan's lakes and streams by monitoring water bodies near you

Brush Lake - MiCorps volunteers identify aquatic plants in their lake and note if they find any invasive species.Is my lake becoming greener? Why don't I see as many fish in the river anymore? Why is the water so cold when I dive into lakes? Do dragonflies really start their life under the water? If you have these or similar questions about a lake or stream near you, check out the Michigan Clean Water Corps -- Michigan's premier volunteer lake and stream monitoring program. MiCorps is a great way to collect important information needed to make data-driven decisions about how to protect and improve Michigan's beautiful lakes and streams.

Q: What is MiCorps?

A: The Michigan Clean Water Corps (MiCorps) is a network of volunteer water quality monitoring programs in Michigan. It was established in 2004 and implemented by the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) to increase the understanding of Michigan's water resources and to help facilitate their protection and restoration. The program is administered for EGLE by Michigan State University Extension, in partnership with the Michigan Lakes and Streams Association and the Huron River Watershed Council.

Q: What kind of water quality programs are part of MiCorps?

A: MiCorps is comprised of three core programs: the Volunteer Stream Cleanup Program, the Volunteer Stream Monitoring Program, and the Cooperative Lakes Monitoring Program.

The Volunteer Stream Cleanup Program provides grants to local units of government to clean up trash to improve Michigan waterways. The cleanup grant program began in 1998 and is funded by fees from the sale of Michigan's specialty water quality protection license plates, available from the Secretary of State's Office.

The Volunteer Stream Monitoring Program provides grants, technical assistance, and training to volunteer stream monitoring groups in Michigan to support the collection of reliable, high-quality data from Michigan's streams and rivers.

The Cooperative Lakes Monitoring Program provides training and equipment to citizen scientist volunteers, most of whom are lake residents. The volunteers monitor for water quality parameters and survey their lakes for plants and shoreline habitat with the guidance of professional biologists.

Q: Who uses the water quality data and where is the data kept?

A: The data is free and available to the public on the MiCorps website via the MiCorps Data Exchange. Biologists who work for EGLE, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, lake consultants, watershed councils, and others use the data to help make decisions regarding the health of a waterbody and to plan future monitoring. Lake residents use the data to determine the health of their lake and to determine what actions are needed to protect or restore the quality of their lake. Researchers access the data to investigate patterns in lake and stream health across regions and the state. There is 47 years of inland lake data available for public use.

For more information, follow the links in this article or contact Tamara Lipsey, or 517-342-4372.  You can also subscribe to our MiCorps listserv for news, announcements, and information regarding water quality monitoring and issues in Michigan. Follow MiCorps on social media for updated information, videos, and announcements of grant opportunities on Twitter (@MiCorpsMI) and Facebook.

Coming tomorrow: Be a citizen scientist and volunteer to monitor

Photo caption: MiCorps volunteers identify aquatic plants in Brush Lake lake note if they find any invasive species.

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