What is the Michigan Vernal Pools Partnership?

The Michigan Vernal Pools Partnership (MVPP) is a public/private partnership of nonprofits, conservancies, businesses, individuals, educators, and agencies in Michigan that have organized to strategically work towards increased conservation and understanding of vernal pools across the region.

Small Wetlands, Big Impact

Vernal pools are small, ephemeral “ponds” on the forest floor that are known to be hotspots for biodiversity. Protecting these highly sensitive habitats presents a significant challenge to traditional conservation approaches because they are a relatively small, fine-scale natural feature that, at the individual level, are critical breeding habitat for local amphibian populations, but in the aggregate play a very important role in northern temperate forests and the Great Lakes ecosystem. Often overlooked and under-protected, vernal pools provide essential habitat for a variety of fauna that rely on them for all or part of their life cycles. As isolated wetlands, they lack any protection from government regulations.

A Partnership to Fill the Gaps

Despite the important role of vernal pools on the landscape, they often slip through the cracks of conservation and management efforts. To address this issue, founding partners at the Michigan Natural Features Inventory, the Michigan Nature Association, and the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy gathered stakeholders across the state to create an initial advisory board to discuss the issue of vernal pool conservation and how we can work together to better protect them. The advisory board identified four main challenges-- lack of comprehensive maps, lack of awareness and understanding, lack of government regulations, and lack of stakeholder coordination. From these initial meetings, it was decided that the group would form a collaborative partnership, pooling their resources, expertise, and time, to address the challenges facing vernal pools. The original partners and advisory board became a Steering Committee, a governance structure was developed, and the four challenges transformed into goals that would each be addressed by distinct subcommittees.

Informed and Strengthened by Community Science 

At the same time, founding partners at the Michigan Natural Features Inventory piloted a community science program, called the Vernal Pool Patrol. The Vernal Pool Patrol would train community scientists to identify, map, and monitor vernal pools in their community, which would contribute to a living database of documented vernal pools across the state. The Pool Patrol works to raise awareness and educate about vernal pools while also helping to develop comprehensive maps and data to better inform research.

Now, the Michigan Vernal Pools Partnership consists of 30+ organizational partners and 50+ subcommittee members, and hundreds of trained community members who contribute their time, resources, and expertise to increasing vernal pool conservation.

To learn more about how the partnership is organized and to view our strategic plan, feel free to view the files attached at the bottom of this page. 


Who can partner with the MVPP?

In order to meet the broad goals of the partnership, diverse and widespread partnership across jurisdictional scales is key! The Michigan Vernal Pools Partnership is made up of non-profits, businesses, local, state, and federal agencies, watershed groups, land conservancies, parks, teachers, universities and more. View our organizational partners here.

Additionally, the MVPP welcomes multiple definitions of partnership, based on organizational affiliation and engagement level.

  • Organizational Engagement: My organization would like to be engaged with MVPP by participating in subcommittees and working towards strategic plan goals
  • Individual Engagement: I would like to be engaged with MVPP as I am able, but do not represent a organization
  • Mission Support: My organization or I support the goals and mission of MVPP, but am unable to be actively engaged at this time

If you or your organization is interested in partnership, please fill out this interest form or reach out to apointer@michigannature.org for more information!

What does partnership with the MVPP look like?

As far as responsibilities go, we ask that organizational & individual partners be active in working towards the described goals of the partnership in some way. This might be serving on a subcommittee, by participating in the Vernal Pool Patrol in some regard, or another way that you or your organization is working towards vernal pool conservation. If your organization is unable to be actively engaged in the MVPP in the ways described, but is still aligned with the mission statement, we classify that as a mission partner.

Vernal Pool Patrol

The Vernal Pool Patrol (VPP) is the community-science arm of the partnership. Little information is currently available on the status, distribution, and ecology of vernal pools in Michigan due to their small size and ephemeral nature. The VPP is a statewide group of trained, community scientists that monitor and collect data on vernal pools in their area. This dedicated group of community scientists contributes their data to a living database that will help inform the conservation of vernal pools. To learn more about getting involved, visit https://vernal-pool-patrol-mnfi.hub.arcgis.com/

File View/Download
MVPP 2018 Strategic Plan View/Download
MVPP Governance, Updated 04_2023 View/Download