Category Archives: Michigan

Volunteers Keep the Invasives Out

IMG_0214(Photo by Robert Barossi)

by Robert Barossi

People have already started to say that “summer is almost over,” but I’m not ready to go there just yet. It’s still the middle of summer in my mind, the perfect time to be having summer adventures and vacations. One of the most popular activities during the summer is taking the boat out to the local lakes and rivers. When people take their boats far from home, to more distant bodies of water, this can become a serious problem. Invasive species can hitch a ride on those boats and travel with them to other lakes and rivers, finding new  homes there. When they do, they can disrupt and even take over ecosystems, with potentially disastrous results. To prevent this from happening, many boat launches host volunteers who work to remove invasive species before the boats hit the water. This story out of Michigan is just one example of how volunteers are working to keep invasive species off the boats and out of the water. There are numerous programs like this, from the Clean Boats, Clean Waters program in Wisconsin to the GREAT Boaters Program in Rhode Island. All of these efforts, with volunteers at the forefront, go a long way towards reducing the potential for serious ecological problems caused by invasive species.

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Volunteers and the Lake Sturgeon

IMG_0214

(photo by Robert Barossi)

by Robert Barossi

The images and messages created by environmental organizations often use iconic and instantly recognizable species. Polar bears. Pandas. Wolves. Eagles or birds of prey. These species are often beloved and revered, and there are certainly good reasons for their status and their use as a conduit for environmental messages. On the other hand, there are thousands of other species that, while far less recognizable and beloved, still need our help. Numerous other species need protecting and preserving and volunteers are an essential part of this important work. This great story out of Michigan details how many volunteers of widely varying ages and demographic backgrounds work together to help protect the lake sturgeon. These aquatic animals have very long life spans and can grow to be rather enormous. They’re not necessarily cute and cuddly or what some might think of as “beautiful,” but they are an important and endangered species, one which is receiving  a measure of protection from a large group of dedicated volunteers. That protection may be paying off, or at least helping. According to National Geographic, the lake sturgeon, “has made something of a comeback. Strong efforts at righting environmental wrongs in the Great Lakes have improved conditions, and concentrated efforts to protect the fish have turned sturgeon into a spotlight species.”

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Volunteers Monitor Great Lakes Streams

Underwater Leaves

(Photo by Robert Barossi)

by Robert Barossi

Wow, it’s been a long time since I posted a story on here. After such a too-long hiatus (mostly due to moving and some health issues), I’m hoping to be back on here regularly, posting at least a few times every week. So, without further ado…

The Great Lakes have been in the news a lot lately, for a number of environmental reasons, from algae blooms to invasive species. This story out of Michigan focuses on how volunteers are an enormous part of the effort to monitor the streams which connect to the larger lakes. While the article puts some emphasis on the Michigan Clean Water Corps, it includes a number of other interesting  and important aspects of stream monitoring in the area. One is that the volunteers are often monitoring populations of insects and small aquatic species, rather than chemicals. It’s an interesting switch from other monitoring practices that focus on testing for things like phosphorus or dissolved oxygen (in a sense, a way to test the water’s quality and collect data which focuses on biology rather than chemistry). Also important is the fact, as the article mentions, that volunteers are doing these kinds of monitoring tests across a number of states (five are mentioned) and for many different organizations, from nonprofits to government agencies. It’s more evidence of how a task as big and daunting as monitoring the waterways connected to the Great Lakes takes many people working in many places, and most of them are volunteers.

If you have enjoyed any of the stories on this blog, read more in my eBook, Being Where You Are: How Environmental Volunteers Impact Their Community and the Planet Every Day

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