Watershed council to host annual winter stonefly search

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published December 30, 2015 | Updated January 13, 2016 12:39pm

 Clinton River Watershed Council volunteers get ready to search for stoneflies in the water samples they’ve collected from the river.

Clinton River Watershed Council volunteers get ready to search for stoneflies in the water samples they’ve collected from the river.

Photo provided by the Clinton River Watershed Council


ROCHESTER — The Clinton River Watershed Council is looking for volunteers who aren’t afraid to make a splash in local waterways to help search for stonefly larvae next month.

The winter stonefly nymph — one of the most sensitive of all aquatic macroinvertebrates that lives in local rivers and streams — is most active in January, when the water temperature is very cold and there is still plenty of leafy debris on the river bottom for stoneflies to forage on.

CRWC ecologist Matt Einheuser said the presence of stonefly larvae in a stream indicates good water quality.

“Stoneflies are very sensitive macroinvertebrates that live a portion of their life in the water and emerge during these colder months. Their presence is a great indicator of good conditions. Much like a canary in the coal mine, when these guys start to disappear in a historically high-quality stream, we know that something is changing and may be impacting that water, whether it be contaminants, higher water temperatures, changes in physical habitat,” he said in an email.

Those interested in volunteering are encouraged to take the Bug Identification Workshop 6-9 p.m. Jan. 13 at the CRWC office at the southwest corner of Avon and Livernois in Rochester Hills.

Trained volunteers will then return to the CRWC office for the stonefly search at 9 a.m. Jan. 23. They will split into teams and travel to various sampling locations. The search will be held regardless of the weather, so all volunteers are asked to dress warmly. Participants who choose to get in the water should bring their own waders, if possible, although the council will have a few extra pairs on hand.

“There will be a few people on each team. Some of them — the more experienced volunteers — will be in the water collecting bugs, and we will have people onshore sorting through and picking out the stoneflies,” said Abby Lane, CRWC program coordinator.

After the search, at around 1 p.m., teams will return to the CRWC office to share their findings and enjoy a complimentary lunch and hot beverages.

Einheuser said the search allows volunteers to learn about the ecology and conditions of local streams while helping add to the council’s Adopt-A-Stream data.

The CRWC’s Adopt-A-Stream program is a volunteer-based effort that empowers community members to protect local streams and rivers by monitoring their health.

“This is valuable data and gives us a snapshot of the conditions throughout the watershed, and … exposes (citizens) to the importance of water quality and protecting (and) conserving our natural resources,” Einheuser said.

Registration is required for both the workshop and the stonefly search. To register, call the CRWC office at (248) 601-0606 or email registration@crwc.org.