Stream Team volunteers search rivers for a rare winter insect to measure water quality


Volunteers look for stoneflies in samples collected from the Belle River. The data helps to monitor environmental changes.

Friends of the St. Clair River (Friends) Stream Team is hosting a free Winter Stonefly Search in the Belle River on Saturday, January 28 from 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. at Columbus County Park, 1670 Bauman Road, Columbus Township. Volunteers that want to learn more about what winter stoneflies are and why winter is the perfect time to look for them are invited to help in this special community event.

During this riverside activity, participants will wade into shallow areas of the Belle River to look for and collect winter stoneflies, a rare and unique aquatic insect that completes its life cycle in the depths of winter. Cold weather affords them food to forage on and very few predators. Stoneflies have a high-sensitivity to pollution and low tolerance to poor water conditions so their presence is a sign of a healthy river.

Friends Education Manager, Melissa Kivel, said, “We were amazed at the number of stoneflies we found last winter in the Belle River. We’re excited to get out there again because our Stream Team connects people with rivers that are full of life even in the coldest months. The data our volunteers collect helps us monitor environmental changes in the river and make suggestions for water quality protection work.”

Stream Team volunteers can join the winter stonefly hunt either in the river or on shore with appropriate winter gear. Waders are available upon request. Hot beverages will be provided. Parking, admission and activities are free and no prior experience is needed. For more information or to register for this event, contact Melissa Kivel, Education Manager, at 810-531-6906, or or visit

Friends of the St. Clair River is Michigan’s Thumb Coast watershed organization committed to inspiring citizen action through stewardship, monitoring and education to restore, protect and enhance the St. Clair River and its watersheds. Visit us at and “Friends of the St. Clair River” on social.