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Au Sable monitoring project to kick off

Please mark your calendars. Our next watershed monitoring date is scheduled for May 20, 2017. This will be our 10th year of the Upper AuSable River Watershed Monitoring project and our 15th monitoring event.

We have a large amount of data and you can see it all in a very readable format thanks to Brian Hutchins on Gahagan Nature Preserve’ web page, www.GahaganNature.org. Our complete collections are also all available for closer scrutiny at the AuSable River Center in Roscommon

The recent discovery of the New Zealand mud snail in our watershed brings up an interesting question regarding our monitoring methods. Did we detect it?

We did not.

However, I am certain that we would have, if that invasive species had been present in any of our sampling areas. Because of our testing, we know that for the prior 9 years, the New Zealand mud snail was not present at Guides Rest on the main branch nor at our Bob Cat Trail site on the east branch.

If it were to spread up or down stream in the future, I am certain that our sampling methods would detect it. On a finer point, if the addition of an invasive species were to cause a change in the aquatic ecosystems present in our watershed, our large data set might well show it.

Gahagan Nature Preserve began this project in 2007 with a start-up grant from MiCorp along with our initial partner organizations: The AuSable River Center, Anglers of the AuSable and Kirtland Community College. The start-up efforts allowed us to connect with and gain support from every organization with a vested interest in the watershed and more that 100 like-minded individuals, especially the Mershon and Mason-Griffith Founders Chapters of Trout Unlimited.

In addition to our efforts to protect critical habitats like our watershed, Gahagan Nature Preserve also provides environmental science education programs in schools and libraries thru out a large region including: Crawford, Oscoda, Ogemaw and Roscommon Counties.

To accomplish this, the board of directors employed me as their education director, a position I have held for 15 years. I retired from that position in 2015, but we have hired a new educator and our environmental science education programs are still going strong.

If you would like to volunteer to assist with the watershed monitoring project, we can always use the help. We will train you, provide sampling materials and then put you on a team of experienced volunteers. We will even teach you how to identify all the bugs you collect.

So far we have found 93 different families of benthic (bottom dwelling) macroinvertebrates, mostly insect larvae. We have a lot of fun and we are doing some good by monitoring and protecting the watershed.

You can find us at Gahagan Nature Preserve, Inc. PO Box 421 Roscommon, MI 48763. Our programs and finances are described in detail on our web page. www.GahaganNature.org Thank you.

Sincerely,

Tom Dale, Project Leader

Upper AuSable River Watershed Monitoring Project

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