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Adopt-A-Stream Program

Adopt-A-Stream volunteers look for and collect macro-invertebrates (aquatic bugs) on the bottoms of streams.


Why? These bugs tell us about the quality of the water in the streams and rivers. Certain species can tolerate more pollution and lower oxygen than others, meaning when we find only those species, the stream isn't as healthy as it could be. Knowing this, we can focus more conservation efforts and funds in the areas that need it most! 

The River Raisin Watershed Council's Adopt-A-Stream program consists of three events: Training Day, Stream Search, and Bug I.D. Day. Volunteers from all across the watershed work in teams to collect macro-invertebrates from twenty sites to determine the water quality of each site. There are both spring and fall collections.

Training Day: Volunteers meet with scientists and staff to get organized for Stream Search day. 

Stream Search Day: Two collectors wade into a stream and work with a special net to collect the insects. Sorters are stationed along the bank and sift through the nets to extract the macro-invertebrates and place them in jars for further analysis on Bug ID Day. The Stream Captain directs the volunteers and ensures all tasks have been completed and every one is working safely.

Bug ID Day: Experts work alongside volunteers to identify the macro-invertebrates to the family level. Results are quantified and analyzed to make a report that ranks each site as poor, fair, good or excellent. The report is forwarded to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.

Interested in being a part of Adopt-A-Stream?

This map shows the 20 locations of our Adopt-A-Stream sites

throughout the River Raisin Watershed.

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