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Volunteer Monitoring Can Protect Wetlands

Fostering Stewardship

Volunteer monitoring programs empower citizens to become more active stewards of wetlands in their communities. Volunteer programs provide an opportunity for land owners, children and other community members to become more familiar with the functions and values of wetlands in their watershed as well as the pressures placed on these resources. Informed citizens can play a key role in encouraging land and water stewardship in all sectors of society, from industry to private homeowners, and from housing developers to municipal sewage treatment managers.

Providing Valuable Data

In 1995, elementary school students in Minnesota discovered frogs with malformations. They captured the nation's attention and professionals and other volunteers have subsequently found malformed amphibians across the Great Lakes region and in northern New England.

Volunteer monitoring programs can provide data for federal, state, tribal and local water quality agencies and private organizations. Although these data are generally not as rigorous as data collected by trained professionals, organizations can use these data to screen areas that otherwise may not be assessed. If the volunteers spot warning signs, they can alert professionals to the problem, and the professionals can follow up with more detailed assessments. As scientists make more progress in developing wetland biological assessment methods, volunteer monitoring of wetlands will increase. In the meantime, there are other ways that volunteers can monitor wetlands.

Additional Resources

See the following for additional volunteer monitoring resources: