Living Sustainably: Tree benefits branch far out

By Zoe Gum, Alec Berrodin and Katelyn DeWitt, Hope College Biology Students

Hope College biology students (left to right) Katelyn DeWitt, Zoe Gum and Alec Berrodin know the value of trees.

How much is that tree in your front yard worth? Sure, you might cash in once on its lumber value – or you could treat it as a long-term investment.
In the latter case, the value will grow tremendously as the tree ages and provides more ecosystem services, or benefits to its ecosystem. The mature tree will have a larger root system intercepting more water, more carbon-storing wood, and a larger canopy providing more shade and wind protection. Carbon sequestration, drought and flood mitigation, energy savings, and pollution removal are some of the other ways that trees provide important benefits to us.
In fact, trees on public property in Holland save the equivalent of $190,200 annually.
Our research project with the Hope College Biology Department began last year with the goal of understanding the benefits that the trees in Holland are providing. We have now done a census of most trees on Hope’s campus, Windmill Island, and public property for a total of 13,784 trees and 171 different species!
First, we measured the diameter at breast height (DBH) for each tree, which gives an estimate of tree size.

This chart shows the total annual benefits in dollars per year of public-area trees in Holland, including benefits from carbon sequestration, avoided runoff, pollution removal, and energy savings.

To determine ecosystem benefits, we used iTree software created by the USDA Forest Service. This program uses local weather and pollution data as well as tree DBH and species to determine the value of each tree’s benefits.
For example, a sugar maple with a DBH of 15 inches provides $32.11 in total benefits each year.
That maple reduces 33.5 cubic feet of stormwater runoff every year by intercepting precipitation with its canopy. It also absorbs and retains water through its vast root system. And this same maple also removes 14.07 ounces of pollutants every year when particulate matter sticks to leaf surfaces. Benefits like these continue to increase as each tree grows.
Both Hope College and the City of Holland have been intentional about this investment. Holland has been a Tree City USA for 39 years, and in 2019, Hope College was recognized as a Tree Campus USA for being sustainable, making an effort to plant new trees every year, and for replacing trees that are removed.
To involve the community in this effort, the data from this project have been used by a group of four students working with Professor Michael Jipping from the Hope College Computer Science Department to develop an app called TreeSap.
This app collects the user’s location and pinpoints the nearest tree in our database. That tree’s unique ecosystem services data are then provided to the user. In the future, users will be able to add trees, contributing to our growing database.
One of our goals is to raise awareness for the essentially “free” ecosystem services provided by trees that people often take for granted. Ultimately, encouraging people to connect with nature is going to be the best way to develop the ethic that will allow us to solve environmental problems together.

 Zoe Gum, Alec Berrodin, Katelyn DeWitt are biology students at Hope College. Zoe is a junior biology and philosophy double major from Traverse City. Alec is a senior biology major from Grand Rapids. And Katelyn is a junior biology major and geology minor from Holland.

This Week’s Sustainability Framework Theme
Community & Neighborhood: The places we live and the individuals we interact with support the development of our personalities and perspectives on life. Encouraging vital and effective communities is essential.

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: How ‘Green’ is Your Coffee?

By Tom Bultman, Hope College

Sustainability efforts are focused on recovering and reusing the substantial volume of water that is required to ferment coffee in the wet processing phase.

Many of us enjoy a “cup of Joe” in the morning. For some of us, it’s a prerequisite for productive work. All total, over 2.25 billion cups of coffee are consumed in the world every day, mostly in the U.S., Europe, and Asia.
Many of us enjoy this daily ritual without much thought as to where the beans came from or how they were produced and processed. Given the economic, social, and environmental footprint of this widely traded commodity – it is the second-most valuable export of developing countries – we would do well to take a minute to consider aspects of the supply side of coffee before indulging.
The global average water footprint of eight ounces of coffee is 34 gallons! Most of this is used during washing the beans, which are actually seeds that are removed from cherry fruits produced by the coffee tree.

Coffee farming can also reduce biodiversity; most of the world’s crop is produced on monoculture farms. Further, coffee is also impacted by unsustainable practices that foster global climate change. Yet, issues of unsustainability go far beyond the environmental sector.
Coffee is traded on the global market, including contracts for future purchase. It is thus open to speculators. This and fluctuations in supply and demand result in a highly volatile commodity price. This puts producers and their families at risk. Most coffee is grown by small producers; 12.5 million small land owners worldwide rely on coffee for a living.
The difficulties of producing coffee to support a family are considerable. A labor-intensive endeavor supplies only one annual paycheck. A major challenge is making ends meet during the “thin months” before the next payment from the coffee harvest. The reality is that many coffee producers earn less from coffee than their annual spending needs. Poverty leads to hunger and malnutrition, and malnourished children suffer educational and health deficits that entrench farm families in generational poverty.
Many in the coffee industry are aware of these issues, and some have offered recommendations on how to overcome them. One group, the Specialty Coffee Association, recently published a white paper on the topic, with various ideas.
One avenue of intervention they proposed is to provide farmers with support and assistance to maximize food production potential and attain a balanced diet. This generally takes the form of helping small-scale farmers diversify their farming to grow crops their family can consume. This can include planting fruit trees that provide harvest during the lean months when crops traditionally grown by coffee farmers, like beans and corn, are not in harvest season.
It can also include providing technical improvements in food storage, like silos for grains, to protect a post-harvest crop.

Beekeeping is being introduced in Latin America to offer coffee farmers additional means of support to rise out of hunger and poverty.

A successful example of this recommendation is Pueblo a Pueblo, an organization that implemented an Organic School Garden Project. Children and parents clear rocks and trees, construct vegetable beds, and erect composting bins. Children plant and maintain the garden. The project not only provides nutritious food, it is also integrated into the curriculum with lessons on biology, chemistry, environmental science, public health, and social studies.
Started at one Guatemalan school in 2011, it has grown to six schools growing more than 38 varieties of vegetables, herbs, flowers and fruit trees. To get involved visit, http://www.puebloapueblo.org/.
A second recommendation of the Specialty Coffee Association white paper is to support livelihood diversification by providing multiple sources of income and food. This often takes the form of training growers in beekeeping and animal husbandry. Honey provides income while livestock enhance diets with needed protein and also provide manure to enrich compost.
An example is the organization Food 4 Farmers. It provides useful information to prospective beekeepers. The bees have the added benefit of improving coffee cherry ripening as well as size and uniformity of the crop. And, beekeeping does not require much land. To get involved visit http://food4farmers.org/our-projects/beekeeping-in-latin-america/.
Another recommendation from the Specialty Coffee Association is to increase industry awareness and action. This can take many forms, but the goal should be to educate and motivate those in the industry to promote sustainability. As consumers, we are part of this equation. An example of such an effort is the
film, “After the Harvest” (http://aftertheharvestorg.blogspot.com/). Viewing it might just change the way you think about coffee.
So, given the situation, what can you do?
Well, you could of course, donate to the organizations listed above and others like them. You could also try to become, if you are not already, an educated consumer. Do you know where the coffee you’re drinking comes from? How it was produced? Some coffee carries with it certifications, like Far Trade, Organic, Bird-Friendly, Rainforest Alliance.
While these are good initiatives, they still do not necessarily allow small-scale farmers to pay for their annual expenses. Many coffee shops and roasters post where their coffee comes from and details about the farms and the farmers that produced the beans. This sort of connection with the source not only gives you information about the quality of the coffee, but can also help inform you of the shop or roaster’s mission concerning sustainability.
Often shops with direct relationships with producers pay far above the commodity price for beans and thus help small-scale farmers make a sustainable living growing coffee. Many shops make sustainability a clear priority and proudly display this.
The next time you visit a shop, ask the barista about the beans and the farm that produced them. If she/he cannot give you an answer, that could tell you something.
 Dr. Tom Bultman is a professor of biology at Hope College and teaches invertebrate zoology, biology of insects and general biology I.  Bultman also directs the Hope College greenhouse and is an associate editor for the peer reviewed Elsevier journal, Fungal Ecology.

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: Michigan offers excellent outdoor adventures

By Zach Terpstra, Hope College Outdoor Adventure Club
With summer now in full swing, the desire to escape civilization and explore all that Michigan has to offer has never been greater.
But where-oh-where to go?
Never fear – the following are fan favorites of seasoned Michigander adventurers! Tried and tested by Hope College’s Outdoor Adventure Club, these three areas provide stunning, amazing experiences for both outdoor novices and experts alike.
Manistee River Trail Loop – This recreation area in the upper Lower Peninsula offers jaw-dropping, unparalleled views. It offers 22 miles of trail following the banks of the Manistee River, so make sure to bring a fair amount of food for two days of hiking.  A best practice is to tackle this trail with others to enjoy the views together.

The Manistee River Trail offers a multi-day hike opportunity easily accessible in Lower Michigan.

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore – This jewel of the north, along the south shore of Lake Superior, is one of the greatest places Michigan has to offer. The picturesque views are exceeded only by what lies ahead, just around the corner on the trail!  This area is massive, and while advertisements attempt to sway you to take a boat tour, the most long-lasting experience comes from hiking along this
lakeshore, allowing you to be fully immersed in this beautiful park.

The scenery of the Pictured Rocks offers great rewards of scenery from shore, not just from boats.

Porcupine Mountains State Park – The only “mountains” in Michigan, in the western Upper Peninsula, create scenic views which can captivate almost any passerby, no matter how addicted to your smartphone you may be.  Cabins are nestled in the heart of this area, so make sure to take a few extra days off to give yourself ample time to explore all of this park, as it hides many waterfalls near its trails.

The highest points in Michigan, in the western Upper Peninsula, offer amazing views and waterfalls for those willing to hike a bit.

As you go on your summer adventures and enjoy these natural areas, remember to follow the Leave No Trace principles. Doing so preserves the beauty of the parks and protects the ecosystems.

Image result for practice leave no trace principlesThe seven principles of Leave No Trace are: Planning ahead, camping on durable surfaces, disposing of waste properly, leaving what you find, minimizing campfire impacts, respecting wildlife, and being considerate of other visitors. You can learn more about the essentials of Leave No Trace at www.lnt.org.

Finally, whether you are camping, backpacking, or just taking day hikes, here are some tips to get you started:

 Always stay on marked trails and campsites to prevent erosion and protect vegetation.
 Plan ahead what food you will bring and how you will dispose of waste. For instance, pack a few gallon-sized Ziploc bags to put trash in.
 Only make fires in designated areas and fire rings.
 Remember to “take only pictures and leave only footprints.”

Enjoy exploring Michigan’s outdoors!

 Zach Terpstra has been on the leadership team for the Hope College Outdoor Adventure Club for three years.  While he enjoys the crazy adventures he personally goes on, the opportunity to share these experiences and inspire others to be outside is what drives him.

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: Local efforts can address global climate change

By Diane Haworth, local sustainability professional

There is plenty of news related to climate change these days. The planet’s climate has constantly been changing over geological time, but now scientists are concerned that the natural fluctuation is being increased by an upsurge in greenhouse gases from human activities.
The greenhouse effect refers to the way the Earth’s atmosphere traps energy from the sun. Trapped energy that radiates back to the planet heats both the atmosphere and the earth’s surface, keeping the temperature at a level to sustain life.
Scientists believe we are adding to the natural greenhouse effect with gases such as carbon dioxide from fossil fuel use and methane from agricultural sources and landfills. These gases trap more energy and increase the overall temperature of the planet. This effect is commonly referred to as climate change.

The impacts of climate change can be seen around the world with increasing water scarcity in dry areas, torrential downpours in wet regions and more severe heat waves and wildfires. The cost to the United States economy alone could be over $200 billion from heat-related deaths, sea level rise and infrastructure damage by the end of the century.

Greenhouse gas emissions from energy production can contribute to climate change. The city of Holland has reduced greenhouse gas emissions by building a new combined-cycle natural gas power plant to replace the former coal power plant. Burning natural gas significantly reduces emissions versus coal, although natural gas is still a fossil fuel and not a sustainable resource.

Home solar panels are an effective way for an individual homeowner to trim back their carbon fuel use and impact on climate change.

However, lower emission, sustainable options such as wind and solar do not provide continuous power. At the utility level, they require large scale energy storage that is still under development. The Holland Board of Public Works uses a mix of energy sources including wind, biogas and natural gas to keep our energy portfolio diverse and able to respond to changes in fuel availability and pricing. The Board of Public Works will continue to explore more sustainable options as they become viable.
Meanwhile, you can take direct personal action to reduce emissions in simple ways that will save you money. Plug air leaks in your house to reduce heat loss. Consider installing a smart thermostat and switching to more efficient LED light bulbs.

Installing LED bulbs are a simple way to reduce energy use, save money over the long run and trim a person’s impact on climate change problems.

Want to make bigger improvements to your energy use? The Holland On-Bill Loan Program administered by the Board of Public Works provides Holland residents a way to make energy improvements to homes both easy and affordable.
The program provides a home energy assessment that gives you an understanding of your home’s energy efficiency and provides a prescription for the necessary improvements. Find out more about the program at https://hollandenergyfund.com/on-bill-loan-program/

 Diane Haworth is a retired sustainability professional.  After a career in product development, purchasing and marketing, she transitioned to develop and manage the global sustainability program for furniture manufacturer Haworth.  She later helped develop the sustainability program for certification body NSF in Ann Arbor.

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: 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.

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: 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: 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.

CONFRONTING A THREAT IN WEST MICHIGAN FORESTS (Hope College Spera Magazine)

KATHY WINNETT-MURRAY, PH.D. | PROFESSOR OF BIOLOGY
K. GREG MURRAY, PH.D. | T. ELLIOTT WEIER PROFESSOR OF PLANT SCIENCE
VANESSA MUILENBURG, PH.D. | ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF BIOLOGY

Hemlock woolly adelgid, the invasive and destructive insect, which sucks the sap from North American hemlock trees and dooms many of them, has taken hold in the Hope College Nature Preserve and a team of faculty and students are studying the impacts.

The research team includes Dr. Kathy Winnett-Murray and Dr. Greg Murray. The veteran husband-wife educators have teamed up with Dr. Vanessa Muilenburg, an entomologist, to assess the extent of the adelgid infestation and determine the importance of hemlock trees in West Michigan forests. They spent summer 2018 doing field work with three Hope students: Katelyn DeWitt ’21 and biology majors Analise Sala ’19 and Micaela Wells ’19.

The researchers spent many hours amid the hemlocks in Hope’s nature preserve about five miles southwest of the campus, near the Lake Michigan shoreline, and at three other sites in Allegan and Ottawa counties. Winnett-Murray says that because of Lake Michigan’s unique influence in creating moisture-rich and canyon-like dune troughs, West Michigan is one of the few places in the Great Lakes region where hemlocks thrive amid forests of beech and maple trees.

Read the full piece by following this link:  https://spera.hope.edu/2019/confronting-a-threat-in-west-michigan-forests/

AUTHOR: JIM MCFARLIN ’74

Jim McFarlin ’74, an award-winning writer, critic and blogger, is a 2019 recipient of Hope College’s Distinguished Alumni Award.

Additional information can be found at:  https://savemihemlocks.org/