Emergence of local citizen monitoring groups has provided a structure for public participation in environmental issues but little is known about how these groups are achieving their goals. We examine a subset of citizen monitoring groups in the United States that conduct volunteer macroinvertebrate monitoring (VMM) as a tool for investigating stream health. Through a survey of VMM groups throughout the United States and interviews with state leaders, we found that VMM groups vary in size and character, and utilize a variety of means to achieve their goals. The majority of VMM groups rely on in-kind support from state and regional programs. Overall, these groups are more interested in conducting VMM to foster public awareness, rather than bringing about structural or legislative change. Based on resource mobilization theory, we illustrate that the opportunity structures at the state level significantly impact the character and success of U.S. VMM groups.
- Citizen science
- Grass-roots environmental management
- Opportunity structures
- Resource mobilization
- Stream monitoring
- Volunteer macroinvertebrate monitoring
- Water quality monitoring