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Now is the perfect time to get involved with protecting our freshwater resources with volunteer events, free training and education classes and family-friendly activities throughout the year!


The Stonefly: A good sign of a healthy river

Stoneflies are a wonderful winter phenomenon, and they play a special role in determining Michigan’s water quality. Their increasing numbers are another indicator of how water pollution has greatly improved from historical conditions in the early and mid-1900’s.

Stoneflies, along with mayflies and caddisflies, are important biotic indicators of water quality. Stonefly nymphs are extremely sensitive to water pollution and develop in cool, well-oxygenated water. The presence of the stonefly is an indicator of good water quality, and their absence in areas where they previously occurred may indicate pollution.

Annual Winter Stonefly Search

This annual event sends teams of volunteers to canvass winter stonefly populations at locations along the Clinton River and its tributaries. Because stoneflies are especially sensitive to pollutants and require higher levels of dissolved oxygen in the water to survive, they are the "gold standard" as an indicator of the stream’s health. This fun and educational event is free, family-friendly and open to the public - no experience required! 



What is a native plant?

Native plants are indigenous to a given area and have evolved over thousands of years in a particular region, adapting to the geography, hydrology and climate of that region.

A native plant is unique because it fully integrates itself into an ecosystem, establishing complex relationships with other local plants, fungi and animals. 

Michigan Native Plants

Michigan’s native plants have adapted to all of Michigan’s soil types - as well as woodlands, wetlands, ponds, streams, meadows, prairies and everything in between.

Coming in a wide variety of shapes, colors, sizes and foliage types, there are over 600 Michigan native plants including wildflowers, grasses, ferns, trees, groundcovers, shrubs, evergreens and vines.

Some species of Michigan’s native plants have root systems that extend up to 15 feet or more underground. This characteristic not only allows the plant to be more successful at searching out water, but it also allows them to hold soil particles in place, preventing erosion and damage from stormwater runoff.

Most native species are perennial or self-seeding biennial plants. This means that they will typically re-seed themselves and continue to thrive with little human intervention. This also save costs by eliminating the need to buy new plants each year.

Why should you grow native plants?

With a new understanding of the purpose and responsibility of wildflowers, our front yards, side yards, backyards, schools, parks, commercial properties, utility easements, driveways and parking lots are now the new frontlines to bridging the gaps between natural landscapes and densely populated areas.

With a fresh approach and some thoughtful planning, our landscaping plants can not only show year-round curb-appeal, but also provide ecosystem services such as stormwater filtration and habitat for pollinators, beneficial insects, songbirds and other wildlife.




With the decline of many aquatic ecosystems due to development, riparian buffers have become a common conservation practice aimed at increasing water quality and reducing pollution.

A riparian buffer or a stream buffer is an area of land maintained with permanent vegetation. This “buffer strip” along streams, rivers and lakes helps control air, soil and water quality.


With the decline of many aquatic ecosystems due to development, maintaining riparian buffers has become a common conservation practice aimed at increasing water quality and reducing pollution.

A riparian buffer or buffer strip helps control air, soil and water quality by filtering excess nutrients and pollution from nearby sources.

Buffer strips intercept stormwater and filter it as it passes through the native vegetation roots, soaking up excess nutrients before they enter the water body. These plants also benefit air quality through photosynthesis and enrich soils by maintaining the natural bacterial and fungal communities.




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