Volunteers will be back in the Cedar River Watershed this spring to determine the river’s water quality by looking at the macroinvertebrates which live in the water. Little Forks Conservancy is seeking volunteers for a stream sampling day on Saturday, May 15, 2021.
The volunteers will meet at 10 a.m. in Pavilion 1 at the Gladwin City Park, located at 240 S. Cayuga St. in Gladwin. Teams will then disperse to sample six separate sites in the Cedar River in Gladwin and Clare counties before reuniting for lunch.
Macroinvertebrates are animals without a backbone that can be seen with the naked eye. These bottom-dwelling animals include crustaceans and worms but most are aquatic insects. They include the larval forms of common flying insects such as dragonflies and mayflies and each species of macroinvertebrate differs in their tolerance to pollutants in the river. Determining the populations of these species can therefore be used to extrapolate the water quality at each site along the river.
Experienced volunteers will act as team leaders and collectors, working in the river to ensure quality samples are acquired. Newer volunteers will assist their team leaders with sorting and transporting the samples.
Volunteers will need to be able to walk on uneven terrain and in forested areas to reach the collection points. This project is intended for volunteers over age eight; however, no specific experience is necessary to assist the team leader and the collector. The volunteers will also have the opportunity to help identify the samples at a later determined date.
Little Forks Conservancy began monitoring water quality of the Cedar River in the fall of 2015. Six years later, some changes are starting to become evident. In 2015, water quality of the six sites was split evenly between excellent and good. When sampled in the fall of 2019, only one site was found to be in excellent condition.
“It’s vital to continue sampling these sites as often as possible so that we can better understand whether any changes are simply seasonal fluctuations or if they indicate a new pollution source in the watershed,” explained Sara Huetteman, Volunteers and Preserves Manager for Little Forks Conservancy.
Last year, Little Forks foregone conducting the stream sampling event to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. With current restrictions in mind, Little Forks will continue to maintain proper safety measures during this event to help keep volunteers and staff healthy and safe.
Lunch will be provided, however, Little Forks requests interested volunteers register by Wednesday, May 12 for their order to be counted.