The Streamkeepers of Clallam County received a $5,483 grant to use for new equipment for its Bug Team.
The Bug Team sorts samples of bugs collected from Clallam County streams and sends them to a taxonomy lab for identification to help gauge stream health.
“So often when people think of the health of our ecosystem they’re thinking of bigger creatures than bugs but bugs are the keystone of the whole thing,” Program Coordinator Ed Chadd said. “They’re at the bottom of the food chain. When the bugs aren’t good nothing will be good.”
Picking often-tiny invertebrates out of piles of detritus is meticulous work and the bug-sorting team currently uses old, borrowed equipment, he said.
Often the equipment isn’t available or isn’t available for long enough and the five to six Bug Team volunteers have to pack and unpack the sample several times before completing the sorting, he said.
“They’re going to be able to set up in places where they know they’ll be able to go and in some cases they’ll be able to check out a microscope to take home and work on the sample all week,” he said.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife grant will enable the purchase of new microscopes, illuminators and other equipment, which will improve the Bug Team’s speed and accuracy.
“If you go to old chemistry and biology labs you’ll see scopes that are 40 to 50 years old,” Chadd said. “I should only hope that Streamkeepers will be around as long as the microscopes.”