2010 Guarding Program

Volunteer for the Guarding Program.

Protecting Our Sturgeon

Each spring, sturgeon head up the rivers to spawn at known spawning sites. At this time a large percentage of the adult sturgeon in the system are concentrated in a small area. When the sturgeon are spawning along the rocky riverbanks they are fairly oblivious to nearby human activity and are susceptible to illegal harvest. Accordingly, conservation officers, volunteer off duty national guardsmen and other volunteer groups are also concentrated in these areas 24 hours a day.

Guards - Protecting Our Sturgeon.

We devote much time and effort to sturgeon protection due to poaching. If this were left unchecked, it would reduce the sturgeon population and destroy the sport fishery.

While we do our best to get all volunteers out on the riverbank to see fish, invariably we must cancel some scheduled shifts if the fish are simply not active. We try in these cases to reschedule volunteers into an active period.

The bottom dwelling lake sturgeon is a living fossil. This ancient species made its first appearance about 136 million years ago, just about the time dinosaurs made their abrupt exit from earth's ever changing stage. The lake sturgeon grows to be great in size and is a challenging trophy for the spear fishermen. It's also a rare fish. Sturgeon can live be over 100 years old and weigh over 200 pounds. Female sturgeon first spawn between ages 17 and 30, once mature they spawn every 4 to 7 years. Male sturgeon do not spawn until they are 12 to 20 years old, then spawn every 2 to 4 years.

Lake sturgeon in Michigan are a threatened species and a rare species throughout the United States.


When you volunteer your time to help with the Black River Sturgeon Guarding Program, here is a list of the recommended items you have on hand during your stay. (please note that some items are provided by SFT)

  • Patrol hat for identification (provided)
  • Map and compass
  • Cell phone (provided), ink pen
  • Sturgeon Observation and Data Sheets (3 ring binder provided)
  • Binoculars / Camera / Camcorder
  • Polarized sunglasses
  • Flashlight
  • Warm clothing, layered so it can be removed or added throughout your shift as temperatures change
  • Lawn chair / umbrella
  • Insect repellent / Sun screen
  • Cooler / water / food
  • Toilet tissue / Port-a-John on site

When arriving at the Black River to volunteer for the Sturgeon Guarding Program, please sign in / out at base camp. Also note that there is Lodging nearby.

While it is impossible to predict the exact dates that spawning will occur each year, guards are routinely scheduled from mid April through Mid May. For many this has become a family tradition.

Guards - Protecting Our Sturgeon.

Because we are guests on the river, our assignment is to watch the spawning areas and be visible but as low key as possible. Setting up of camping equipment, cooking, etc. is welcomed. You may obtain a DNR camping permit from the Sturgeon General. There are some general rules to keep in mind.

  • Please no loud radios
  • No littering will be tolerated. Take all trash with you.
  • We do not expect you to get involved in trying to physically stop any illegal activity.
  • Use your cell phone and call the DNR Report All Poaching Center at 1-800-292-7800.
  • Use your RAP card (provided) to document such things as: make, model, type of vehicle, license number, description of suspects, hair color, height, weight, age, clothing, date, time, and type of violation.
  • Please record when, and how many fish are visible on the spawning site.
  • If you find yourself at a spawning site with no fish visible, DO NOT LEAVE! Sturgeon stage in the deep water off the site and are just as vulnerable to those persons bent on taking them.

If you would like more information on the Black Lake Chapter of Sturgeon For Tomorrow's Sturgeon Guarding Program, please feel free to contact Brenda Archambo, the Sturgeon General.

We hope you enjoy watching spring come to life on the Black River.

Please know your efforts are appreciated!

~ Previous Guarding Programs ~