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May 2019

An MWA Action Alert: Encourage your State Legislators to Support Funding for the Michigan Clean Water Corps (MiCorps)

Defined by a mission that is completely dedicated to preserving and protecting our vast treasure of high quality inland lakes and streams that perennially contribute immense ecological and recreational services that are known to be worth billions of dollars to our economy, and that provide the “freshwater foundation” for our unique Pure Michigan lifestyles, the outstanding collaborative partnership based organization known as the Michigan Clean Water Corps (MiCorps) is in need of our help. Funds derived from the Clean Michigan Initiative, a voter approved state bond issue that provided a long-term funding source for the water quality monitoring focused organization from 2003 – 2017, have now been completely exhausted. The lack of a sustainable funding source for MiCorps has already resulted in the suspension of the Volunteer Stream Monitoring Grant Program. Our readers should understand that program managers were able to conduct the 2019 Cooperative Lakes Monitoring Program only as the result of a one time grant provided by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. Readers should also be aware that without action within this fiscal year by the Michigan state legislature to provide the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) with a long term sustainable funding appropriation that allows the agency to fully fund and operate Michigan Clean Water Corps, these highly effective inland lake and stream water quality monitoring programs may soon cease to exist.

Therefore, Michigan Waterfront Alliance is asking our members and all who read this e-mail to immediately contact your respective state senator and representative via telephone or e-mail in order to express your support for these outstanding programs. Our state senators and representatives hear from so few of their constituents that your voice expressed via a phone call or e-mail carries a lot of weight on how they decide to vote on any given issue. Please know that your voice matters! Please take the time to contact your state senator or representative today regarding a stable, long term funding source for the Michigan Clean Water Corps!!!

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We have provided a relatively short summary of the history of MiCorps and its programs to allow you to more effectively communicate with your state senator or representative.

The Michigan Clean Water Corps (commonly referred to as MiCorps) was created in 2003 through Michigan Executive Order #2003-15 in order to assist the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) in collecting and sharing inland lake and stream water quality data for use in water resources management and protection programs.

Employing a small, dedicated professional staff, MiCorps is an efficient, well run program administered by the Great Lakes Commission under the direction of Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) in collaborative partnership with the Huron River Watershed CouncilMichigan Lake Stewardship Associations (formerly Michigan Lake and Stream Associations), and Michigan State University.

Michigan Clean Water Corps (MiCorps) trains citizen volunteers to conduct lake and steam water quality monitoring; promotes and disseminates science-based methods to ensure accurate water quality data collection; implements effective quality assurance practices; facilitates on-line, readily accessible water quality data reporting and information sharing; and provides an open and readily accessible forum for communication and support among volunteer water quality monitoring groups in Michigan.

Comprised of two citizen volunteer monitoring programs, the Cooperative Lakes Monitoring Program and the Volunteer Stream Monitoring Program, MiCorps provides technical assistance to local units of government and non-profit organizations, including hundreds of lake associations and watershed groups distributed throughout Michigan.

Representing the second oldest citizen volunteer-based water quality monitoring programs in the nation, the MiCorps Cooperative Lakes Monitoring Program (CLMP) has been a critical component of Michigan’s inland lake monitoring program for over 40 years. Beginning in 1974 as a lakefront property owner focused Self-Help Program that offered only a single parameter – Secchi disk (water clarity) and involving only a few volunteers and their respective lakes, the CLMP now offers seven parameters, including Secchi disk, total phosphorus, chlorophyll-a, dissolved oxygen and temperature, aquatic plant mapping, exotic aquatic plant watch, and lakeshore habitat assessment. Since 1992, Michigan Lake Stewardship Associations (MLSA) (formerly Michigan Lake and Stream Associations) has administered the Cooperative Lakes Monitoring Program jointly with the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) under a Memorandum of Understanding. In collaborative partnership with the Great Lakes Commission, the Huron River Watershed Council, and the Department of EGLE – Michigan Lake Stewardship Associations continues to administer the CLMP with the assistance of Michigan State University’s Department of Fisheries and Wildlife. It is important to point out that the MiCorps CLMP has become one of the United States most successful programs involving several hundred citizen water quality monitoring volunteers and well over 300 participating inland lakes.

The MiCorps Volunteer Stream Monitoring Program includes a competitive grants program for water quality monitoring in wade-able streams and rivers under four different topical areas. These include Aquatic Macroinvertebrate Survey Grants that provide funding and support volunteer monitoring organizations interested in monitoring benthic macroinvertebrate communities and habitat characteristics in their streams and rivers; Aquatic Macroinvertebrate Survey Start-up Grants that provide funding and support to assist start-up groups in designing a volunteer monitoring strategy for their respective communities; Road/Stream Crossing Inventory Grants that provide funding and support to volunteer monitoring organizations interested in assessing the condition of road/stream crossings to protect and enhance streams throughout a target watershed; and Stream Flow Monitoring Pilot Project Grants that provide funding and support to organizations in order to establish volunteer-based programs in which staff and volunteers determine the total water flow of small streams.

Contact your state senator and representative today to express your enthusiastic support for a stable, long term funding source for these critical water quality monitoring programs!!!!

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