Cannon Township awarded stream-monitoring grant

Cannon Township has been awarded a $1,054 grant from the Michigan Clean Water Corps (MiCorps) Program. The grant will help the township design a monitoring strategy for Bear Creek, a tributary to the Grand River.

Bear Creek.

The grant was awarded through the Department of Natural Resources and Environment’s (DNRE) MiCorps Volunteer Stream Monitoring Program. Kim Sapkowski, Watershed Administrative Assistant for Cannon Township, applied for the grant in February. The grant, along with assistance from MiCorps, will help the Bear Creek Watershed Council, a partner with Cannon Township, set stream study goals, interpret stream data and use the data for decision-making and educating the public.

Sapkowski stated, “The members of the Bear Creek Watershed Council and Cannon Township have established a proactive stance to watershed health. We can measure certain data of a stream, such as temperature and clarity, but we need to know what that data means and how we can use it. This grant will allow us to craft a stream study plan that will give us specific information for planning and education.”

The grant required each recipient to have specific goals for the grant project. Sapkowski said, “Our goal is to answer the following questions: How will our community benefit from the stream studies? How will we use the data? How will we build and maintain the volunteer base? How will the stream study program be financed over the long term? What parameters will be studied and how many sampling locations along Bear Creek will be studied?”

The project will get underway in June 2010 and will conclude in February 2011. At that time, Cannon Township will be eligible to apply for a larger MiCorps grant that will train volunteers in stream study data collection, such as macro invertebrate studies.

Three other organizations across the state were also awarded start-up grants from MiCorps. They are Muskegon River Watershed Assembly, Gogebic Conservation District and Midland Conservation District.

Sapkowski will be the project manager for Cannon Township’s grant. She has been the Watershed Administrative Assistant at Cannon Township for four years. As part of her position, she conducts lake studies through the Cooperative Lakes Monitoring Program, coordinates the Bear Creek Watershed Council, organizes the Bear Creek Waterfest, visits schools, helps citizens solve water quality problems and assists citizens in the wetlands permitting process.

Cannon Township Clerk Bonnie Blackledge will be the project’s advisor. She has been the township’s clerk for 18 years and was instrumental in implementing Cannon Township’s Bear Creek Overlay Protection District, the Stormwater Ordinance and the Wetland Ordinance. In addition, she has been trained in macro invertebrate studies.

The MiCorps program was established by Governor Jennifer M. Granholm to involve and assist the state’s volunteer water quality organizations with water quality assessments, protection, and stewardship of Michigan’s lakes and rivers. MiCorps provides training and support for local volunteers to help them design a stream study program in order to collect quality data on the state’s water resources. The DNRE (formerly the Department of Environmental Quality) established the Volunteer Stream Monitoring Program in 1998.

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