Living Sustainably: MAX Transit again offers efficient access for Tulip Time

By Shelby Pedersen, Max Transit
There’s no need to tiptoe to the tulips this year – or walk or drive downtown, for that matter.

For a one-time fee for the whole festival, Max Transit will again provide easy Tulip Time access to downtown from outlying parking lots.

The Macatawa Area Express (MAX) is again pairing with Tulip Time to offer an inexpensive way to avoid parking and traffic problems during the festival that begins May 4.
To avoid traffic and congestion, local residents and visitors alike are encouraged to leave their vehicles in MAX’s designated Park & Ride lots and hop on the shuttle into downtown Holland.
This year’s Park & Ride lots will be located at D&W off of Douglas Avenue, Dutch Village on the corner of James and U.S. 31, and at Ditto, near the corner of Clover and Eighth Street.

No need to tiptoe through the tulips to get to Tulip Time. Max Transit will again provide easy access from outlying parking lots.

The shuttle’s main transfer point in downtown Holland will be at Windmill Island, with other stops downtown at City Flats Hotel (Seventh Street and College Avenue) and the Holland Rescue Mission Men’s Mission (Seventh Street and South River Avenue).
In keeping with this year’s Tulip Time theme of “Paint the Town Orange,” the shuttles will be identified by orange window clings to show pride in 90 years of celebrating this traditional festival.
The Park & Ride shuttle will arrive at stops every 15 to 20 minutes to make pick-ups and drop-offs.
The shuttle runs 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day during Tulip Time. The last shuttle of the day will arrive at each stop between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m.

To take advantage of this sustainable and efficient travel option, festival-goers must purchase a $5 wristband. The wristband gives riders unlimited rides for the entire festival on the Park & Ride shuttle as well as on MAX’s fixed bus routes. Wristbands are non-transferrable and non-refundable.
Riders can purchase wristbands online at tuliptime.com, catchamax.org, or during the festival week at Ditto, D&W, Nelis’ Dutch Village, the MAX Transit depot office, and the Tulip Time office.
An additional sustainable transportation option for festival goers is the opportunity to ride a bike part way and use the MAX bus to complete a trip. All of MAX fixed route buses can accommodate three bikes on a bike rack; the spaces are first-come, first-served. Using a personal bike, riders will be able to reach locations that fixed routes may not meet.
MAX’s fixed route buses operate 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays, and 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturdays. The fixed bus routes do not operate on Sundays, although the Park & Ride Shuttle will.
For more information on the shuttle or fixed bus routes, visit www.catchamax.org or
www.tuliptime.com/transportation or call MAX Customer Service at (616) 355-1010.
 As Shelby Pedersen grew up in Holland, she and her sister would ride the MAX bus all over Holland. Two years ago, aware of the importance of public transportation, Shelby joined MAX Transit as an information specialist. She is now marketing and customer service managers assistant.

This Week’s Sustainability Framework Theme
Transportation: The movement of people, goods, and services within the area is an evolving system that links us to our regional, national and global networks.

ABOUT THIS SERIES
Living Sustainably is a collection of community voices sharing updates about local sustainability initiatives. It is presented by the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute, a joint project of Hope College, the City of Holland and Holland Board of Public Works. Go to www.hope.edu/sustainability-institute for more information.

Spring into Sustainability this Earth Month!

Below is a listing of some of the fun things happening around the greater Holland area that you can participate in to learn more about our Earth and how to protect it.  
Be sure to also check out the events on the calendars for the Holland-Hope College Sustainability InstituteOutdoor Discovery CenterDeGraaf Nature CenterCity Parks, and our county parks (Ottawa and Allegan). 
 
Happy Earth Month! 

 

Poster sized April Sustainability Events 

Living Sustainably: Research Fest celebrates learning

By Laura McMullen and Karey Frink’18 , Hope College
Hope College invites all community members to come to the 18th Annual Celebration of Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity.
Each year Hope College students work on a variety of research projects in all academic divisions and display their results at the Celebration. This year, more than 200 projects from 27 departments and programs will be on display. Poster topics range from economics to theatre, gender studies to chemistry.  Even the location where the research was gathered ranges from local to global studies.

The Celebration will be held 2:30 to 5 p.m. April 12, in the Richard and Helen DeVos Fieldhouse at Hope. This is a free event with no registration required.

Most projects will be presented in a poster format with the researchers available to answer any questions. Visitors can plan their visit at the Celebration’s website, celebration.hope.edu. The website lists the titles of the projects and provides a floor map.
“Come when you can and leave when you must,” said Laura McMullen, program manager of the Celebration. “We recommend to allow yourself plenty of time to explore the posters. There are always more presentations than time.”
At the Celebration, be sure to look out for green sustainability ribbons. This is the third year that ribbons have been awarded for projects that explore environmental sustainability. Last year, more than 100 ribbons were awarded.
The awarded projects are categorized along the seven sustainability framework categories developed by the City of Holland. The categories are clean energy, community and neighborhood, economics, environmental awareness, transportation, and quality of life. To learn more about the framework categories, descriptions are available at HollandSustainabilityReport.org.
Come find out more about our local community through a variety of topics. Topics cover a wide range – from exploring the effect of the Vietnam War on the Hope College campus to finding out about the value of trees in the City of Holland, from learning about environmental factors that influence the Macatawa watershed to discovering how project-based learning in STEM classrooms impacts local students’ attitudes toward school.
Be sure to bring curiosity and questions, grab free popcorn, and celebrate the research these students have worked hard on!

Learn more about research at Hope College at  https://hope.edu/research.

 Laura McMullen is the program manager for the Office of Research and Scholarship at Hope College. Karey Frink is an assistant for the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute.

This Week’s Sustainability Framework Theme
Community Knowledge: The collective knowledge and energy of the community is an incredible resource that must be channeled to where it is needed.

ABOUT THIS SERIES
Living Sustainably is a collection of community voices sharing updates about local sustainability initiatives. It is presented by the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute, a joint project of Hope College, the City of Holland and Holland Board of Public Works. Go to www.hope.edu/sustainability-institute for more information.

Living Sustainably: Kids can learn to be sustainability leaders

By Susan Ipri Brown and Shana McCrumb, Hope College

Teaching the next generation how to take action will help train up the next generation of sustainability leaders.

“We need to have a vision of the world we want to create so that we can see ourselves as collaborators with future generations in the project of shaping it.” – Dr. David Grinspoon “Think of your kids and live sustainably.” How often do we hear such statements as a call to action for embracing sustainable practices?
But at the same time that we embrace this call, are we training this generation to take on the mantle from us? Let’s engage them in shaping their future. Let’s train them to directly act. Empower them, not lecture them. Let’s guide them, teach them how to jump in, how to ask questions, how to let their curiosity lead.
Classroom teachers continually find innovative ways to integrate sustainability based questions and curiosity into their curriculum. Many are using air quality monitors in their science and math classes to create hands-on experiences by collecting authentic environmental data, learning how to draw conclusions and asking further questions from those experiences.
At Hope, new funding from Pepsico will inspire composting and waste reduction habits in our college students and summer campers.
Summer adds an additional time to let our students explore, ask questions, and see the relevancy of their decisions to their environment. This summer, look for camps and outdoor adventures that immerse your student in an authentic study of the environment, that lets their curiosity lead to discovery.  Relevancy is empowerment.
We’ve employed these principles in several new and revised camps at Hope’s Summer Science Camps: Exploring Ecosystems for students entering grades 3-8, EnviroCaching for grades 4-8 and Experimental Design for grades 10-12. (Thanks to support from the Environmental Education Division of ASME, International and to materials from the MSU Extension!)
 Exploring Ecosystems, a hands-on, nature-based camp, enriches students’ natural understanding of the ecology of local ecosystems. Through observation, data collection and analysis, students will gain an understanding of how organisms interact with other organisms and the abiotic environment to form an ecosystem.
 EnviroCaching is an environmental themed camp with a twist. Combining the idea of geocaching with environmental science themes, students will use tablets loaded with a GPS application to orient to given coordinates. At each coordinate, they complete exploration activities.
 Experimental Design puts students into the world of research labs and high-tech investigations.  They’ll learn first-hand research techniques, lab protocols and data analysis. Focusing on biofuel development, students will explore how new fuels are developed, visit an active agricultural research station, and perform their own experiments.
Students are naturally curious about the environment and the interactions within nature. Whether it’s a camp, a camping trip, or a long walk on a beautiful summer evening, make your outdoor adventure the spark of learning and empowerment.

 Professors Susan Ipri Brown and Shana McCrumb are directors of ExploreHope academic outreach programs at Hope College, including the extensive Summer Science Camps.

This Week’s Sustainability Framework Theme
Community Knowledge: The collective knowledge and energy of the community is an incredible resource that must be channeled to where it is needed.

ABOUT THIS SERIES
Living Sustainably is a collection of community voices sharing updates about local sustainability initiatives. It is presented by the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute, a joint project of Hope College, the City of Holland and Holland Board of Public Works. Go to www.hope.edu/sustainability-institute for more information.

Living Sustainably: Water, water everywhere? Not so much, anymore

By Paul Sachs, Ottawa County

One of Ottawa County’s most alluring features is its water. For as far as the eye can see, Lake Michigan’s crystal-blue waters lap up against our expansive sandy shoreline. Twenty-four miles of coastline provide the perfect backdrop for walking, swimming, kayaking, boating, and fishing.

But what we can’t see, and something that is threatening our quality of life, is a serious groundwater issue: The deep underground aquifer system that supplies water to Ottawa County wells is declining.

Water levels in Ottawa County’s deep aquifer, supplying wells for one in four county homes, have declined 40 feet in the last 40 years and are projected to drop another 20 feet by the year 2035.

Residents get their drinking water in one of two ways – from municipal pipeline systems that pump water from Lake Michigan, or from private wells that pump water from the underground aquifers. Of the more than 104,000 households in Ottawa County, one in every four homes uses groundwater as their primary source of drinking water.
The groundwater issue in Ottawa County involves the deep bedrock aquifer, located more than 100 feet underground. A seven-year scientific study determined that a thick layer of clay is preventing water from re-entering the deep bedrock aquifer. As groundwater is continually pumped out of the aquifer, the system is not being “recharged” fast enough to keep up with demand.
Furthermore, as water levels continue to decline, water quality is worsening due to naturally occurring brines (salt) found in the aquifer. Elevated levels of sodium chloride can corrode pipes, damage crops, and potentially exacerbate health concerns.

Water levels in the deep aquifer have declined 40 feet in the last 40 years and are projected to drop another 20 feet by the year 2035. While we tend to think that water is abundant in our lakeshore county, we need to start thinking differently about our water usage in order to sustain this natural resource.
Ottawa County is implementing a comprehensive groundwater management plan to address this issue head-on, but it will take a village to stop this slow leak. Do your part to help sustain our excellent quality of life by making these four water conservation tips a part of your routine:
1. Practice smart lawn care: Ask yourself, how important is having a green lawn? Homeowners use over 2 billion gallons of water annually in Ottawa County watering their lawns.
2. Load up washers: Start your dishwasher or washing machine when full. Older units use up to 16 gallons of water per cycle.
3. Turn off the faucet: Turn off the faucet when brushing your teeth. Faucets use more than two gallons of water per minute.
4. Low-flow devices: If you don’t already have low-flow toilets or faucets, install them to save water, and money.
For more information about Ottawa County’s groundwater issues, visit
www.miottawa.org/groundwater. Also, this past week, March 10-16, was also National Groundwater Awareness Week. Learn more here: www.ngwa.org.

 Paul Sachs is director of planning and performance improvement for Ottawa County, where he is responsible for implementing innovative, pragmatic solutions that positively impact quality of life and economic growth in the county.

This Week’s Sustainability Framework Theme
Environmental Awareness/Action: Environmental education and integrating environmental practices into our planning will change negative outcomes of the past and improve our future.

ABOUT THIS SERIES
Living Sustainably is a collection of community voices sharing updates about local sustainability initiatives. It is presented by the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute, a joint project of Hope College, the City of Holland and Holland Board of Public Works. Go to www.hope.edu/sustainability-institute for more information.

Living Sustainably: On-going study looks at improving Lake Mac health

By Dan Callam ’09, ODC Network
How can you tell if a lake is healthy? It’s not as simple as what’s in its water and on its shores.
Lake Macatawa’s watershed – the area that drains into it – comprises most of the greater Holland/Zeeland area and is made up of neighborhoods, shopping and business districts, and farmland.
Over the past five years, local partners have worked to improve conditions in Lake Macatawa and its watershed by reducing sources of phosphorus through the Project Clarity initiative.
There are several important indicators we use to tell not just how healthy Lake Mac is, but the health of its watershed as well. Phosphorus is a nutrient that can lead to algae blooms and is attached or accompanied by sediment that makes the lake appear murky. These conditions are detrimental to aquatic life and limit the number and abundance of species that can be found in the lake.
Researchers from the Annis Water Resources Institute at Grand Valley State University continue to monitor conditions around Lake Macatawa. They take readings at five locations around the lake several times a year, with additional support from Hope College and a number of volunteers.
Along with phosphorus, the team measures algae concentrations and the clarity of the water. The average annual concentration of phosphorus in the lake was 72 parts per billion in 2018, the lowest annual reading since state and federal monitoring began in the 1970’s. While these levels are still not low enough for the lake to be considered healthy, the trend is encouraging.

We need to bear in mind that there are going to be ongoing stressors that impact the health of the watershed. Some of these are beyond our community’s immediate control, such as ongoing changes to our climate.
However, there are other factors that we can more easily address, like developing our community wisely and finding ways to encourage water to infiltrate into the ground, rather than pave land and pipe water to the nearest stream.
Macatawa Watershed ProjectProject Clarity and our partners have been able to implement more than a hundred projects since the effort began in 2014. While there are good examples of these types of green infrastructure projects, we need these to become the default way – rather than the exceptions – of building, farming, and doing business.
Findings about the lake are shown in the Lake Macatawa Dashboard Report, which is available at outdoordiscovery.org/project-clarity or at macatawaclarity.org. The full 2018 monitoring report will be
available later this spring.
 Dan Callam is the Greenway manager at the ODC Network. He helps oversee Project Clarity as well as the Macatawa and Kalamazoo River greenway efforts.  Dan graduated from Hope College in 2009.

This Week’s Sustainability Framework Theme
Community Knowledge: The collective knowledge and energy of the community is an incredible resource that must be channeled to where it is needed.

ABOUT THIS SERIES
Living Sustainably is a collection of community voices sharing updates about local sustainability initiatives. It is presented by the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute, a joint project of Hope College, the City of Holland and Holland Board of Public Works. Go to www.hope.edu/sustainability-institute for more information.

Living Sustainably: Free trees can help cut energy use

A properly planted tree can help a homeowner save up to 20 percent on energy use. And Holland Board of Public Works residential electric customers can reserve a free tree this spring to strategically plant in their yards to save energy and lower utility bills. Image result for arbor day and right tree right place

From the Arbor Day Foundation, the Energy-Saving Trees program began in 2012, and operates in 37 U.S. states. More than 70 organizations have participated, including utility companies, city governments, state governments, corporations, and nonprofits. This is the first time the program has been offered in Michigan.
The Holland BPW and the City of Holland are partnering to provide 300 trees in four species.
Customers may choose from among red maple, river birch, royal star magnolia, or prairie fire crabapple.
These species thrive in our climate and soil conditions, and will help the urban canopy move from 25 percent to the city’s goal of 36 percent. In addition, trees absorb carbon dioxide, and will help drive Holland’s Community Energy Plan goal of cutting per capita greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2050.
Developed by the Arbor Day Foundation, the Energy-Saving Trees program educates homeowners about the benefits of strategic tree planting for energy savings using an online mapping tool.

The tool was created by the Arbor Day Foundation and the Davey Institute, a division of Davey Tree Expert Co., and uses peer-reviewed scientific research from the USDA Forest Service’s i-Tree software to help participants plant trees in the most strategic location in their yards. The tool calculates the estimated
benefits of the selected tree, including cost savings associated with reduced energy bills, cleaner air, reduced carbon dioxide emissions, and improved storm water management. When planted properly, a single tree can save a homeowner up to 20 percent on energy costs.
While using the tool, customers will see their property and utility lines and will be able to select a species, position it, and learn if it is in an optimal spot. If the tree is positioned in a safe place and submitted, a confirmation email will be sent to the customer once HBPW staff confirm its placement.
Customers will need to call MissDig within the week before receiving their tree, as it is very important to know where to dig to avoid utility conflicts. Customers will be provided with tree care, maintenance, and placement resources upon registering, and at the time of pick up.
Registration is open from Feb. 11 to mid-April, or until supplies last, at www.arborday.org/HBPW.

For people who have a confirmed order from their online registration, the trees will be distributed at a pickup event on Saturday morning, April 27, at the BPW Service Center, 625 Hastings Ave, Holland, from 8 a.m. to noon. At the pickup, participants should be sure to either print their order confirmation or have it readily available on a phone. We hope to see you there!
 Morgan Kelley is conservation programs specialist at Holland Board of Public Works and leads the residential energy waste reduction programs.

This Week’s Sustainability Framework Theme
Environmental Awareness/Action: Environmental education and integrating environmental practices into our planning will change negative outcomes of the past and improve our future.

ABOUT THIS SERIES
Living Sustainably is a collection of community voices sharing updates about local sustainability initiatives. It is presented by the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute, a joint project of Hope College, the City of Holland and Holland Board of Public Works. Go to www.hope.edu/sustainability-institute for more information.

Living Sustainably: Panel to discuss complexity of affordable housing

By Hannah Gingrich, Living Sustainably Along the Lakeshore

The Holland area suffers from a significant lack of housing that full-time workers in this area can afford.

“Affordable housing is not a simple subject” might be the understatement of the year.  Regular consumers of local news have undoubtedly noticed this topic repeatedly featured in recent city discussions.

Housing issues affect everyone, though in different ways. Even the casually interested likely have heard friends or coworkers mention how difficult it is to find a place to live or how stressed out they are when faced with an upcoming move, wondering if they will be able to find a situation they can afford.

The next Living Sustainably Along the Lakeshore program will address how housing issues affect us and our neighbors. Four local housing experts will talk about what affordable does and could look like in Ottawa County at “Quality of Life: The Affordable Community,” to be held 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 5, at Herrick District Library, 300 S. River Ave.
All kinds of people are significantly affected by the lack of available housing at their price point.
Housing Next’s May 2017 Impact Report, the most recent available, points out the large number in our community who fall in the ALICE category – ALICE, or Asset-Limited, Income-Constrained, Employed.
That threshold is $56,400 for a family of four.

The lack of housing that can be afforded by area workers is a major issue in Holland.

Housing Next is a local initiative seeking to support all income levels needing affordable housing.
Housing Next’s impact report recounts stories of seniors, recent graduates, factory workers, single mothers, and disabled adults struggling to make ends meet.
In one example, Sue and Tom both make $10 an hour working at a factory. They like the area and want to stay, but their monthly income barely meets their expenses. Sometimes it comes down to a choice of what bill gets paid that month – rent or car insurance, day care or food.
In another example, Tamara has a full-time job. As a single mother making minimum wage, she was forced to look for more affordable housing when her work hours became erratic. However, she couldn’t find anything near work and had to rent an apartment half an hour away, despite being concerned about her car’s reliability. She must now spend much of her budget on transportation.
Housing and homelessness aren’t simply issues of poverty. Jobs paying low wages may not have been intended for individuals supporting families, but that situation has become the new reality. How do you manage to live a life of quality when your paycheck barely covers the roof your head?
But building affordable housing doesn’t come cheap.
It might seem like a simple matter of budgeting a building to keep it low-cost. But not only does an affordable housing development require the same real estate purchases, zoning approvals, and building expenses as market-rate rentals, it often comes with additional challenges. Neighbors may contest building sites, and the grants needed to make projects financially feasible lengthen the process, which
ultimately drives up cost.
These kinds of issues will be addressed by the panel of experts at the next Living Sustainably program on March 5. Included in the evening will be a drawing for a $20 Lakeshore Habitat for Humanity ReStore gift card

 Hannah Gingrich is a public services assistant at Herrick District Library, a Living Sustainably Along the Lakeshore partner.

“Quality of Life: The Affordable Community”
Who: Ryan Kilpatrick of Housing Next; Laura Driscoll, director of housing services at Good Samaritan; Angela Maxwell from Community Action House, and Chad Frederick from the geography department faculty at Grand Valley State University
Where: Herrick District Library, 300 S. River Ave.
When: 6:30 to 8 p.m., Tuesday, March 5
Admission: Free

This Week’s Sustainability Framework Theme
Quality of Life: The community, through governmental, religious, business and social organizations, makes decisions that contribute to its own well-being.

ABOUT THIS SERIES
Living Sustainably is a collection of community voices sharing updates about local sustainability initiatives. It is presented by the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute, a joint project of Hope College, the City of Holland and Holland Board of Public Works. Go to www.hope.edu/sustainability-institute for more information.

Living Sustainably: Good business is doing good for the community

By Hanna Schultz, People First Economy
It’s 2019, and with the new year comes inspiration, a renewed sense of purpose, and the added drive to become the best version of yourself you can be.
So, why would your approach to your business be any differently? This last year has seen economic growth and opportunity for many businesses, and it has also uncovered a desire for many businesses to embrace their values in a different, more meaningful way.
In West Michigan, many businesses align their practices with the values that the owners and employees hold dear in everyday life. This is among the reasons that locally owned businesses are statistically more philanthropic, environmentally responsible, and intentional toward community engagement. Many of these values have been more or less “unspoken” for many years, even generations, as the businesses themselves have grown or gone through seasons of change.
The Good For Michigan program wants to help businesses institutionalize and benchmark their impact, while providing real-time data that tracks all of the positive effects that the business has on the environment, their employees, and the community as a whole.

Good For Michigan offers resources for businesses that want to learn and do more for their communities. These opportunities include educational workshops. Details for upcoming events can be found at goodfor.org/events.
The crux of the program is the Quick Impact Assessment, which is a tool that any business can use to get a snapshot that measures and quantifies the positive impact it is making in its local community. The assessment (or the QIA, as it’s fondly called) is free for any business to take, and the information gathered is confidential.
The QIA is a 60-minute assessment that measures dozens of best practices for employee, community and environmental impact. Business owners can also see how they compare to other businesses nationally.
This assessment is ideal for business owners who are interested in learning about how they can use their business to make a positive social and environmental impact in their community.  Businesses of all sizes and industries are invited to participate.
A diverse range of West Michigan businesses are already participating in Good For Michigan, from engineering firms to a breweries to restaurants, housing development companies, design firms and more.
Visit www.goodfor.org for more information or to take the Quick Impact Assessment for your business.
You can help keep the business community in West Michigan a leader in responsible business practices!

 Hanna Schulze is development manager at People First Economy, the organization that runs the Good For Michigan program. Hanna has worked in economic development for over five years and finds the most value in her work when she can help small business owners grow their business intentionally using sustainable principles.

This Week’s Sustainability Framework Theme
Economic Development: Businesses and the local consumers are driving engines that generate capital for growth and development. We want to be a location of choice for new business and industry.

ABOUT THIS SERIES
Living Sustainably is a collection of community voices sharing updates about local sustainability initiatives. It is presented by the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute, a joint project of Hope College, the City of Holland and Holland Board of Public Works. Go to www.hope.edu/sustainability-institute for more information.

Living Sustainably: It’s all about global “weirding”

By Sarah Irvin, Naturalist at DeGraaf Nature Center

Climate change is altering wind patterns, affecting bird migrations and forcing birds, such as this pine siskin, to adapt their behaviors.

Climate is defined as the weather in a particular area over a large time period, which unveils patterns when recorded, allowing us to create models that mimic and make predictions.
Unfortunately, climate trends will become increasingly more challenging to predict as temperatures and precipitation events shift; the phenomenon that we have named “global warming” might more accurately be called “global weirding.”
While it is true that the planet is warming on average, it is the ever-increasing rate of change and values outside of acceptable climate variability that are concerning.

Changes in temperature patterns are altering when flowers bloom, affecting human allergies and insect behaviors.

The U.S. Global Climate Change Research Program conducted an evaluation and concluded the following about what types of changes to expect in the Midwest over the next century:
 Plants: In the early growing season, agricultural yields will be reduced by rising temperatures, excessive soil moisture, and erosion from increased rain. In the late growing season, invasive species and pests currently stressing our plants will worsen from an increased frequency of drought. Water stress on all plants will eventually lead to a lowered species diversity and productivity in our forests.

Climate changes are altering ice cover on Lake Michigan, which can affect evaporation, water temperatures and health of the water ecosystem.

 Water: Our Great Lakes are not receiving the annual ice cover that we are used to seeing, allowing evaporation to occur year-round (with summer evaporation rates increasing).
Changes in water level and temperature can stress native species, creating opportunities for invasive species and toxic algal blooms.
An Environmental Protection Agency study projects that decline in water quality, along with increased storm impacts, will negatively affect Michigan coastal communities.

 Animals: Migrating birds will fight stronger headwinds on a longer journey south, but return with the push of the wind, allowing them to conserve energy and arrive at their breeding grounds healthier. Biologists’ already are seeing birds adapting their flight paths and have hope that the gradual nature of the change will allow them to continue to adjust.
But they also note that imbalanced adaptations in lifecycles or bloom times could decrease food availability across all animals.
At the same time, ecosystem services such as flood control, water purification, and crop pollination provided by plants and animals will decrease as species diversity declines and habitats degrade.

 People: With warming temperatures, pollen seasons will likely extend, impacting people with seasonal allergies. And within our human infrastructure, we can expect property damage and disrupted transportation from increased heavy rain events, subsequent flooding, and erosion, according to the assessment. Most people will notice these changes slowly, but those already vulnerable will only become more so.
With the vast interconnected nature of our environment, no change can happen in isolation. Change is a natural, unavoidable part of our planet. We just have to do what we can to limit our impact, and thwart the speed and scale of changes occurring now.

 Sarah Irvin holds degrees in geology and terrestrial ecology and is a naturalist at DeGraaf Nature Center. The views expressed here are hers alone and not representative of DeGraaf Nature Center.

This Week’s Sustainability Framework Theme
Environmental Awareness/Action: Environmental education and integrating environmental practices into our planning will change negative outcomes of the past and improve our future.

ABOUT THIS SERIES
Living Sustainably is a collection of community voices sharing updates about local sustainability initiatives. It is presented by the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute, a joint project of Hope College, the City of Holland and Holland Board of Public Works. Go to www.hope.edu/sustainability-institute for more information.