Dakota County is seeking volunteers eager to pull on a pair of waders and jump into monitoring the health of wetlands through the Wetland Health Evaluation Program (WHEP).
Volunteers will work with a team to monitor and collect information — such as data on plants and macroinvertebrates — used to study trends in order to better manage wetlands and surrounding natural resource areas. Previous monitoring experience or a background in science is not necessary.
Volunteers typically commit 10–20 hours of their time, which includes training, field work and lab analysis. The county provides the training, which may be conducted virtually to follow COVID-19 safety guidelines. Volunteer registration will be accepted through May 15.
WHEP volunteers receive training in field methods, macroinvertebrate (e.g. beetles, bugs, snails) collection and identification, and plant survey techniques and identification. Each team will take samples from 3–5 wetlands between June and August. Wetland monitoring teams will be formed in Apple Valley, Burnsville, Dakota County Parks, Eagan, Farmington, Hastings, Lakeville, Mendota Heights, North Cannon River Watershed Management Organization, Rosemount, South St. Paul and West St. Paul.
The program will follow social distancing and other COVID-19 safety guidelines.