Volunteer Training Manual: Michigan Vernal Pool Mapping and Monitoring Project

Due to recent increased awareness of the ecological significance of vernal pools, there has been growing interest in identifying, monitoring, and protecting these small but valuable ecosystems. In order to further understand and adequately protect these critical habitats, it is essential to know where they occur. However, due to their small size and seasonal nature, vernal pools can be difficult to identify and map, and have not been well-documented by the National Wetland Inventory (NWI) or other traditional wetland mapping efforts. Little information is currently available on the status, distribution, and ecology of vernal pools across the state in Michigan. The Michigan Natural Features Inventory (MNFI), a program of Michigan State University Extension, in collaboration with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ), conducted a three-year project to develop and initiate efforts to identify, map, and assess vernal pools in Michigan using remote mapping techniques and field sampling. Funding for this project was provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the MDEQ. Additional partners on this project include the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR), Herpetological Resource and Management, Michigan Technological University, and Michigan Nature Association. The goal of this project was to enhance our understanding of vernal pools in Michigan and provide a framework for assessing their status, distribution, and ecological values across the landscape. The project is continuing efforts to identify, map and monitor vernal pools, and to develop and implement a statewide vernal pools mapping and monitoring program. These efforts will inform and aid in the development and implementation of appropriate conservation strategies for vernal pools and associated plants and animals in Michigan.