Living Sustainably: Native plants are beautiful and beneficial

By Sarah Irvin, DeGraaf Nature Center

Leaving dead flower heads attached over the winter, like on this native evening primrose, provides organic art, as well as shelter for hibernating insects.

This growing season, you can help reintroduce native plants to our otherwise cultivated landscapes of non-native or invasive plants and monocultures of green grass. Including native species in your yard will bring beauty to your life; benefit our local ecosystem, and save you time, money, and energy!

Here are some of the benefits:

Create an artistic display We have the privilege of seeing the many forms of native plants and their dynamic seasonal displays, from showy flowers and beautiful fruits and seeds to brilliant fall foliage and organic winter forms.

Keeping fallen leaves and twigs in your yard through the winter creates wonderful protection for hibernating animals like these garter snakes, as well as insect larvae and pupae.

Benefit our wildlife Native plants and animals have evolved alongside one another, becoming essential to each other’s survival. These specific plants provide higher quality shelter and food, ensuring better survival all of the way up the food chain. Including plants of variable heights, such as trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants, creates layers of habitat, allowing more animals to live in the same amount of space.

Conserve water, and keep our waterways cleaner Non-native plants require more water, as well as extra accommodations such as pH and soil adjustments, and rely on the use of fertilizers, pesticides, or herbicides for survival. Native species keep these chemicals out of our community and conserve water. They also provide flood and erosion control; their fibrous roots go much deeper than non-native alternatives, increasing rainwater infiltration, which reduces storm water runoff, increases water quality, and limits the amount of pollution and sediment reaching our waterways.

Eastern hemlocks are an amazing native tree that block so much sunlight with their needles that they create a cooled microclimate, which can lower air conditioning costs.

Reduce the impact that our gardens have on our climate Native plants do not require as much mowing, therefore reducing fuel consumption, as well as noise and carbon pollution. Long-living trees also can remove existing greenhouse gas carbon dioxide from our atmosphere.

Limit maintenance time Some native plants grow into dense groupings, or drop leaves and twigs that act as a natural mulch and weed suppressant.

Reduce money spent on plants and accommodations Because these plants evolved here, they are more resistant to damage from freezing, drought, common diseases, and herbivores. Some varieties also live for many decades. Planting many different types of native plants will better protect your whole garden from disease and environmental stress, making it more resilient against non-native introductions.

Conifers and other native large trees provide ample habitat for animals like this great horned owl, whereas smaller herbaceous plants shelter owl’s prey.

For anyone looking to add some of these beauties to their garden this year, DeGraaf Nature Center is having a Native Plant Sale. We will have numerous species of native wildflowers, shrubs and trees available from a local grower who specializes in Michigan genotypes. These are plants whose genetics were influenced by a long history of growing locally, and will therefore be more successful in your garden.

 

If You Go
What: Native Plant Sale
When: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, May 18
Where: DeGraaf Nature Center, 600 Graafschap Road, Holland
Why: Improve your yard’s ecosystem

 Sarah Irvin holds degrees in geology and terrestrial ecology and is a naturalist at 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.

Living Sustainably, Get Ready to Roll in Green Commute Week

Join the Hope College Green Team by emailing “sustainability@hope.edu.”

By Carolyn Ulstad, Macatawa Area Coordinating Council
Spring is a time to reinvent, refresh and reflect on how we want to proceed through the warm months ahead. For most of us, after enduring the long winter, spring means spending as much time outside as possible.
My own warm weather goals involve promises to myself to see the beach at least once a week no matter how busy life may get, spend less time on the couch, take more walks during lunch, ride my bike to work more frequently, and spend more time with friends and family.
If you have similar goals, you can get started on them during the annual Green Commute Week taking place May 12-18.
Green Commute is all about making transportation decisions that are good for our health and the health of our planet. And since everything is more fun with friends, teaming up is encouraged! What counts as Green Commuting? Some examples include walking, biking, carpooling, riding the bus, telecommuting, or driving a fully electric car!
Here’s how it works: During the week, individuals and teams in the Holland/Zeeland area compete by choosing “green” transportation options when commuting to work, school, running errands, and so on.
Miles are logged on the MACC’s website Monday through Friday. Those with the highest participation within their category will be declared the winner! This year, the winners will receive a trophy crafted by Cento Anni Custom Woodworking and an outdoor bike rack to keep or donate to a location of their choosing.
This event is for everyone, whether you’re a year-round green commuter or first-timer interested in trying something new.
Here’s the process for joining the fun of Green Commute week:
1. Register as an individual or form a team with your friends, family, co-workers, church, neighbors, club, sports team, classmates, or any other group of people you’d like to compete with. Register at www.the-macc.org.
2. Track your commutes and miles Monday through Friday on the MACC website.  Total commute miles will be used to determine air quality benefits and may be used as a tie-breaker.
3. Visit the Recharging Stations! At those spots, Green Commute participants will receive discounts on things like food, coffee, bike tune-ups – and also get free rides on MAX Transit!
4. Share your progress with us and keep up to date with the week’s events on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter at @GreenCommuteHZ.

Green Commute Dates to Remember
May 1: Green Commute Poster Contest entries deadline. Learn more and see prizes at www.the-
macc.org. All ages welcome!
May 14: LSAL Green Commute Expo and Bike Ride. See more at
facebook.com/events/328775747612644/
May 16: Transportation Open House from 12 to 2 and 4 to 6 p.m. at the MACC office to see
transportation projects planned for our area over the next four years.
May 17: All Green Commute miles reports due to the MACC by noon.
May 21: Green Commute Awards Banquet at Brew Merchant, 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.

 Carolyn Ulstad is transportation planner at the Macatawa Area Coordinating Council.

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.

Living Sustainably: Two events address business sustainability

By Michelle Gibbs and Paul Lilly, Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute
Businesses are emerging as significant players in the environmental/social movement because of their opportunities to implement solutions while still following principled business methods.
Two upcoming events provide opportunities for businesses and community members to learn about ways to support the “triple bottom line” – the business approach that accounts for social, environmental and economic impacts.
First, the West Coast Chamber of Commerce will host a kick-off event for a new Sustainability Affinity Group at their office at 8 a.m. Monday, April 22.  The goal of the event is to help businesses brainstorm about the role they can play in improving the social, economic and environmental well-being of our community.  Registration information is available at the Chamber’s website at www.westcoastchamber.org.

Second, the Living Sustainably Along the Lakeshore team will host an event on the “Economics of Sustainability” at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 23 at Herrick District Library.
The Living Sustainably team is partnering with Good for Michigan to pull together a panel of experts who will discuss why and how they have implemented environmentally and socially responsible business practices, while ultimately prioritizing the growth of their bottom line.  Community members and business owners alike will have time to ask questions.
We will hear from representatives of: Local First West Michigan/Good for Michigan; the chair of the new Chamber Sustainability Affinity Group; Lakeshore Advantage; and local businesses like EcoBuns Baby + Co., Lemonjellos Coffee, and Goodwill Industries of West Michigan.
Good For Michigan recognizes companies across Michigan that are making a positive impact on their employees, their community, and the environment. Through collaboration across sectors, this initiative is designed to build the business community’s capacity to have measurable triple bottom line
impacts and foster a shared, durable prosperity for all.
Lakeshore Advantage’s SURGE program offers resources for early startups to achieve their next growth milestone.
Ecobuns Baby + Co. is a Holland-based business that is focused on being conscious of the overall environmental impact of the products they carry. The business provides a space for both education and a retail store that only carries products that families can feel good about using.
Lemonjellos has for many years led efforts among downtown businesses to have responsible recycling programs and waste minimization programs. “Sustainability, for me, has always just made sense,” said owner Matthew Scott. “At Lemonjellos, it’s a way of life that we choose and that we want to
make easy and accessible for folks in the community.”
Goodwill Industries of West Michigan is an example of how one organization can help other business be more sustainable and create a network of participants. Their program for recycling, under the direction of Dan Broersma, has opened an avenue to reduce the amount of material entering landfills.
These two events will help enhance development of a network of like-minded businesses that can be a powerful force in West Michigan for sustainability.

Check out Earth Day events
Earth Day, April 22, is right around the corner and the Holland area is offering lots of great opportunities to learn more about the earth and ways to help protect it.  Check out the community calendar by clicking on the “events” tab at hope.edu/sustainability-institute to see all of the upcoming events.

 Michelle Gibbs is the director for the Hope College Office of Sustainability and the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute (HHCSI).  Paul Lilly is a long-time advocate for sustainability in the greater Holland community and sits on the Steering Committee for the HHCSI.

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.

2019 HOPE COLLEGE STUDENT SUSTAINABILITY RESEARCH PROJECTS

In Holland, we believe that in order to become a vibrant, world-class community we must look at all aspects of our community.  This includes the “Triple Bottom Line”  and the economic, social, and environmental impacts we all have. Our City of Holland Sustainability Committee has created a seven-pillar framework with “lenses” to help us evaluate and make more sustainable choices. We have used this framework model as a way to identify the 2019 Hope College Sustainability Research Projects.

The Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute (HHCSI) would like to formally recognize the following projects:  

PDF Document:  2019 Sustainability Research Projects

PDF Document:  2019 Program

This year’s research projects were designated with a “green ribbon” on their research poster at the annual Celebration of Undergraduate Research and Creative Performance. Original research by students on topics ranging 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, were highlighted during the Celebration at Hope College on Friday, April 12, from 2:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Richard and Helen DeVos Fieldhouse.

Framework Categories:

SMART ENERGY  

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT 

TRANSPORTATION  

COMMUNITY & NEIGHBORHOOD  

QUALITY OF LIFE  

COMMUNITY KNOWLEDGE  

ENVIRONMENTAL ACTION & AWARENESS  

For more information about the Framework visit:

www.hollandsustainabilityreport.org

For more information about the Annual Celebration visit:

https://hope.edu/academics/celebration-undergraduate-research/

The students and their projects represented all of the college’s academic divisions — the arts, humanities, social sciences, and natural and applied science.

The research and performance celebration, first presented in 2001, is designed to spotlight the quality and importance of student-faculty collaborative research at Hope. Undergraduate research is a hallmark experience for many Hope students and has been a teaching model used at the college for more than seven decades. Mentored collaborative research happens year-round, with approximately 300 students conducting faculty-supervised independent research during the academic year and 200 doing research over the summer, making Hope’s summer research program among the largest in the nation at a liberal arts college. Since faculty are active in scholarship year-round, many more students engage in research during the academic year.

Research has a long and storied history at Hope College. More than 100 years ago, biologist Dr. Samuel O. Mast designed research laboratory space for the college’s Van Raalte Hall, which opened in 1903. The late Dr. Gerrit Van Zyl, who taught chemistry at the college from 1923 to 1964, is widely recognized for developing research-based learning at Hope in its modern sense.

Hope has received recognition in a variety of ways through the years for its success in teaching through collaborative faculty-student research, and for the high quality of the research itself. For the past 16 years, since the category debuted, the “Best Colleges” guide published by U.S. News and World Report has included Hope on its listing of institutions that are exceptional for their emphasis on undergraduate research and creative projects. Hope is one of only 42 institutions of all types, and one of only 12 national liberal arts colleges, on the list in the 2019 edition.

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.