New WV vernal pool community science program collaborates with ARMI scientists
ARMI scientists have been collaborating with West Virginia’s Department of Environmental Protection and WV Division of Natural Resources to inform development of a Vernal Pool Mapping and Monitoring initiative which aims to engage community volunteers in wetland science. Startup and initial costs were funded by a grant received by WVDEP, and the program aims to mirror success of the WV Save Our Streams volunteer-based program and expand knowledge of vernal pools in the state. The program objectives are to increase public understanding of wetlands functions and values, improve knowledge of the location and extent of wetlands, and engage public participation in wetland policy, conservation, and restoration. Starting in 2023, volunteers will visit pools 1-3 times per year, submit photos of the pool and any observed amphibians to the WV iNaturalist project, and complete datasheets to document habitat conditions, species observed, and water levels at their assigned pools. ARMI scientists will continue to collaborate with the program to advise on data collection protocols, site selection, and provide opportunities for volunteers to engage with ARMI science occurring in wetlands across the northeast.