In 2005 the Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council developed its current Volunteer Stream Monitoring Program, which has evolved into the monitoring of 43 sites in the streams which flow into Black Lake, Burt Lake, Mullett Lake, Lake Charlevoix (including the Boyne River), Torch Lake and Little Traverse Bay.  A history and detailed explanation of the program can be found at the Watershed Council’s website, www.watershedcouncil.org.  The Friends of the Boyne River have participated in this program since its inception by providing data from the Boyne River.

Nancy Cunningham and Michael Ryan collecting data

Nancy Cunningham and Michael Ryan collecting data

In short, volunteer teams monitor the water quality of streams being studied two times a year, during the spring (May) and fall (September), spending 2-3 hours at each of two sites on each stream, collecting stream data, especially macroinvertebrates (aquatic insects, crustaceans and other small aquatic “critters”) the absence or presence of which determines the heath of a stream’s ecosystem.  The “critters” are preserved and a few weeks later, at a laboratory session with local experts, are identified by the volunteers.  The Watershed Council provides all the necessary training sessions for the volunteers and annually produces water quality reports summarizing the data collected for each of the streams by the volunteers (copies of the reports also can be found at the Watershed Council’s website).

Boyne crew searching for aquatic "critters"

Boyne crew searching for aquatic “critters”

If you enjoy being outdoors and exploring the fascinating stream ecosystems of Northern Michigan, whether it be the Boyne or some other stream, you should consider becoming involved in the Tip of the Mitt Volunteer Stream Monitoring Program by either contacting one of the FoBR monitoring team members or Matt Claugherty, Monitoring and Research Coordinator, by phone at (231) 347-1181, or by mail at matt@watershedcouncil.org.