Living Sustainably: Award-winning series celebrates local sustainability

By Michelle Gibbs, Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute

Back by popular demand, the Living Sustainably Along the Lakeshore series is offering another great line-up of educational events sharing how Holland is becoming a more sustainable community.
The annual series began in the fall of 2014, and the planning team’s mission is to educate and empower citizens to live more sustainably through these free educational events.

Each month, as part of our upcoming 2017-2018 series, we will share information about work being done as it relates to the city’s “Sustainability Framework.” The framework demonstrates the many ways in which sustainability awareness can improve our community’s future. It includes these seven themes:
 Smart Energy
 Economic Development
 Transportation
 Community & Neighborhood
 Quality of Life
 Community Knowledge
 Environmental Action & Awareness
The City of Holland Sustainability Committee created this seven-pillar framework to guide decisions about our future, ensuring Holland continues to be a world-class place to live, to do business, and to play.
We are using the framework to share information about our journey to become a more sustainable community.  Find the 2016 Sustainability Report at www.hollandsustainabilityreport.org/.
In September 2016, Living Sustainably Along the Lakeshore received the “2016 Top Project Award” from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality’s Neighborhood Environmental Partners Program.
The advocacy group was recognized for its 2015 educational series and for collaborating with 50 local partners on behalf of sustainability education. The announcement was made at the First Annual Michigan Sustainability Conference, held in Grand Rapids.
The Living Sustainably series is sponsored by the following organizations, with additional endorsing partners that assist with individual events relevant to their respective missions:
 City of Holland, as part of the Sustainability Committee’s efforts,
 GreenMichigan.org,
 Herrick District Library, as part of the library’s adult programming series,
 Hope College, as part of the Sustainability Institute,
 League of Women Voters,
 Meijer Campus of Grand Valley State University, as part of the university’s commitment to sustainability, and
 West Michigan Environmental Action Council.
Plan now to attend the fall and winter events, shown in the list.
Flyers can be found under the “Events” section at www.hope.edu/sustainability-institute or follow us on Facebook by searching for “Living Sustainably Along the Lakeshore.”
Details about the spring 2018 line-up will be available later this fall.  We look forward to having you join us!
 Michelle Gibbs is director of the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute. The vision for the Institute is a healthy and economically vibrant community that promotes environmental stewardship and mutual respect for people and the planet. Our mission is to foster collaborative efforts to infuse sustainability into the minds and practices of the greater Holland community.

Save the Dates: Living Sustainably Event Schedule
These Living Sustainably Along the Lakeshore programs all will be 6:30 to 8:00 p.m.
“Quality of Life: The Macatawa Watershed,” Tuesday, Sept. 12, at Herrick District Library.
“Smart Energy: Holland Energy Park – Resource. Destination. Gateway.,” Tuesday, Oct. 10, at Holland Energy Park.  (RSVP required due to limited space).  RSVP:  http://bit.ly/visit-holland-energy-park
“Community and Neighborhood:  Recycling, It’s not just 3R’s.  Hint: It’s 8R’s.,” Tuesday, Nov. 14, at Herrick District Library.
“Economic Development: Forecasting a Sustainable Government,” Tuesday, Jan. 9, at Herrick District Library.

PHOTO CUTLINES –
Lake mac.jpg (Courtesy of the City of Holland) The Lake Macatawa watershed’s role in Holland’s quality of life is the focus of the first of the Living Sustainably Along the Lakeshore fall programs.

This Week’s Sustainability Framework Theme:
Community Knowledge: The collective knowledge of the community is an incredible resource, that knowledge and energy 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.

Hope College Faculty and Student Research Project: Continent-wide analysis of how urbanization affects bird-window collision mortality in North America

Hope College Faculty and Student Research Project:  Continent-wide analysis of how urbanization affects bird-window collision mortality in North America

In the fall of 2014, Dr. Kathy Winnett-Murray and five Hope research students participated in an EREN (http://erenweb.org/) collaborative research network project studying the effects of building size and urbanization on bird window collisions.  The Hope College research students that gathered data for the Hope College site were Michael Barrows (’15), Nicholas Gibson (’17), Emily Kindervater (’15), Courtney Lohman (’16), and Alexandria Vandervest (’15).

The bird-window collision project was replicated at 40 college/university sites across North America and the results of this continent-wide study were recently published in the on-line journal Biological Conservation.

ABSTRACT-

Characteristics of buildings and land cover surrounding buildings influence the number of bird-window collisions, yet little is known about whether bird-window collisions are associated with urbanization at large spatial scales. We initiated a continent-wide study in North America to assess how bird-window collision mortality is influenced by building characteristics, landscaping around buildings, and regional urbanization. In autumn 2014, researchers at 40 sites (N = 281 buildings) used standardized protocols to document collision mortality of birds, evaluate building characteristics, and measure local land cover and regional urbanization. Overall, 324 bird carcasses were observed (range = 0–34 per site) representing 71 species. Consistent with previous studies, we found that building size had a strong positive effect on bird-window collision mortality, but the strength of the effect on mortality depended on regional urbanization. The positive relationship between collision mortality and building size was greatest at large buildings in regions of low urbanization, locally extensive lawns, and low-density structures. Collision mortality was consistently low for small buildings, regardless of large-scale urbanization. The mechanisms shaping broad-scale variation in collision mortality during seasonal migration may be related to habitat selection at a hierarchy of scales and behavioral divergence between urban and rural bird populations. These results suggest that collision prevention measures should be prioritized at large buildings in regions of low urbanization throughout North America. 

A link to the full paper can be found here 

Not surprisingly, bigger buildings are more deadly for birds, but the real beauty of this study is in elucidating a larger-scale pattern that only emerged by comparing many sites – that large buildings are especially bad if they sit in a less developed landscape that is more attractive to birds (i.e. one that has lots of greenspace and low structural density).  This insight allows for prioritization of collision prevention measures at buildings where impacts can be predicted to be greatest.

It is important to recognize not only that a project of this scale is only possible through a large-scale collaborative network of institutions, but that on-campus collaboration at the local level was equally important in the successful completion of the study here at Hope.  Thank you to the many people on our campus that allowed for us to participate and accomplishing this project!

Dr. Kathy Winnett-Murray
Professor of Biology – Hope College
Holland, MI 49423
email:  winnetmurray@hope.edu

Living Sustainably: Everyone is part of a watershed – celebrate yours!

Living Sustainably: Everyone is part of a watershed – celebrate yours!

We love our waterfront here around Holland, but did you know that, really, everyone lives on the water?

It’s true. We all live in a watershed. A watershed is an area of land that drains into a certain stream, river, or lake. It’s like a bathtub where all the water flows towards the drain because it’s the lowest spot. And if you live in the greater Holland area, you live in the Macatawa Watershed.

On Saturday, July 15, the Macatawa Water Festival will be back for its third year on Holland’s Windmill Island.

The festival is designed to help people of all ages learn about one of our most precious resources, Lake Macatawa and the Macatawa Watershed. The festival will feature hands-on activities and educational exhibits from more than two dozen local partners.

Activities will be available for all ages. Every young explorer will receive a Watershed Passport. As they learn from various vendors and participate in activities, they will receive passport stamps. Once their passport is complete, they will turn it in for a prize.

Why should you be at the 2017 Macatawa Water Festival? Here are seven good reasons:

1. Join in more than 20 hands-on activities;

2. Ride in a voyageur canoe or paddle a kayak around the island;

3. Build a rain barrel or wood duck nest box;

4. Fish for a trout, have it filleted and take it home for dinner;

5. Learn about recycling, composting, and upcycling;

6. Take a bike ride around the island or ride in a pedal cab;

7. It’s a great and free way for the whole family to unplug and get outdoors!

— Ashley Van Zee is the Community Outreach Coordinator at the Outdoor Discovery Center Macatawa Greenway. The ODCMG is a local nonprofit with the mission to connect people, land and nature.

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 hope.edu/sustainability-institute for more information.

 

Living Sustainably: Working on Lake Mac’s Reputation

LIVING SUSTAINABLY:  Working on Lake Mac’s Reputation

By Dan Callam, Macatawa Greenway Manager

Just how healthy – or unhealthy – is Lake Macatawa?  Does it deserve its murky reputation?

Grand Valley State University’s Annis Water Resources Institute has produced its annual monitoring dashboard for Lake Macatawa. The report summarizes sampling on Lake Macatawa during 2016.  The Institute’s monitoring supports Project Clarity, the local effort led by the Outdoor Discovery Center Macatawa Greenway to clean and restore the Macatawa watershed.

Results from 2016 sampling show some improvement in water clarity and a slight increase in phosphorus in Lake Macatawa. Long-term impact is hard to gauge until decades of data is in, but recent years’ results show some improvement in clarity the past four years and a slight downward trend in phosphorous. Some natural variability occurs depending on weather and other conditions. But both indicators are still at undesirable levels for a healthy lake.

Lake Macatawa is considered to be a hypereutrophic lake, meaning that it has extremely high levels of nutrients and sediment. Sediment and the nutrient phosphorus can result in murky waters, poor habitat and detrimental algae blooms. Development in the greater Holland area has increased storm water volume, which leads to increased erosion. Ultimately, this results in increased amounts of pollutants reaching Lake Macatawa.

Supported by more than $10 million in funding, Project Clarity has been working to treat sources of sediment and nutrients, thereby reducing the amount of pollutants reaching Lake Macatawa.

The work includes constructing and restoring large wetland complexes to detain floodwater and remove pollutants. This replaces some of the wetlands lost to settlement and development. To date, 58 water quality projects have been completed with local farmers, governments and businesses. These projects will increase water storage on those sites and keep phosphorus out of waterways. Projects have been completed and improved practices are either implemented or pledged for nearly 11,000 acres.

With a great deal of variability from year to year in lake systems, continued monitoring is needed to see long-term changes and track the overall progress of Project Clarity.

“It allows us to differentiate trends that are associated with the restoration activities from those that are part of any ecosystem’s natural variation,” said Al Steinman, director of the Annis Water Resources Institute.

“Some years are dry and some are wet; some years are cold and some are warm. That kind of background variation can mask trends associated with real progress, so we need long-term monitoring to get a robust sense of whether the trends we are seeing are due to natural variation or to restoration activities.”

This past year demonstrated periods of amazing clarity on Lake Macatawa, as well as late-season algae blooms and murky waters following rain or snowmelt.  While the early data is encouraging, the community needs to adopt additional practices that hold storm water and keep nutrients out of waterways.

Farm field and infrastructure projects completed to date are great examples, but until those are commonplace, the Macatawa Watershed will continue to struggle with water quality issues.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The Annis Institute also collects other data on Lake Macatawa and several of its tributaries, on conditions around restoration projects, and on fish populations in the lake.  To learn more, the entire Lake Macatawa Dashboard report, as well as the full Project Clarity Monitoring Report, can be found on the Project Clarity website: macatawaclarity.org/monitoring.

Images:

((2016 Clarity chart cutline)):   Most recent test results show a trend of improving clarity in Lake Macatawa.

((2016 Phospherous chart cutline)):   Test results show a slight increase in phosphorous in 2016 but hopeful signs of decreasing levels long-term.

((Baseflow.jpg – Annis Water Resources Institute graduate student Emily Kindervater measures water quality in the Macatawa River for Project Clarity. (Courtesy photo – GVSU-AWRI staff)

-Dan Callam is Greenway Manager for the Outdoor Discovery Center Macatawa Greenway

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.

January 2017 Sustainability News

January 30, 2017 – Living Sustainably: We can see more stars in Holland

January 30, 2017 – Why 98% of Companies Do Not Achieve Their Sustainability Goals

January 30, 2017 – BP Advocates for Putting a Price on Carbon

January 30, 2017 – How to Reduce Corporate Food Waste? There’s an Online Hub for That

January 27, 2017 – Affordable housing, LGBT ordinance among goals discussed by Holland city council

January 23, 2017 – “GREAT DECISIONS” SERIES TO ADDRESS TOPICS OF GLOBAL IMPORTANCE

January 23, 2017 – Kids’ Food Basket adds Jefferson K-7 to Sack Supper program

January 23, 2017 – EV Charging Stations Increasingly Common

January 23, 2017 – Leaks: Trump Budget to Demolish DOE Programs

January 23, 2017 – Perry Signals Support for Energy Codes

January 22, 2017 – Living Sustainably: Cultivating a sustainable community

January 18, 2017 – EPA pick disagrees with Trump, says climate change isn’t hoax

January 18, 2017 – North Ottawa Dunes land swap finalized

January 17, 2017 – Consumers will pay more money for “sustainable” products

January 17, 2017 – Herman Miller receives WorldatWork 2017 Seal of Distinction

January 17, 2017 – Groups to begin making social justice changes in Holland

January 16, 2017 – Need identified for affordable housing in Ottawa County

January 15, 2017 – Ottawa, Allegan receive grant to battle invasive species

January 12, 2017 – Home Help: 5 tips to keep your home warm, cozy and protected this winter

January 11, 2017 – This bumble bee was everywhere. Now it’s on the endangered species list.

January 11, 2017 – Holland’s South Shore Drive to see on-street bike lanes

January 10, 2017 – Dale Wyngarden: Bike lanes need to adhere to standards

January 6, 2017 – How one company eliminated food waste: The ‘landfill can no longer be an option.’

January 6, 2017 – Cyclists gather to ride, eat, drink together at Sunday’s Frigid Frondo

January 5, 2017 – GVSU’s Sustainability Impact Totals $250 Million

January 4, 2017 – As from 1 January 2017 100% of Dutch trains are powered by wind energy.  The Dutch railways company NS is the world’s first railway company that gets 100% of its energy from wind turbines.

January 3, 2017 – Allegan, Ottawa United Way partnership brings regional service

January 3, 2017 – Holland Sentinel Guest Editorial: Think inside the box: Shipping donated items to Goodwill made simple

January 3, 2017 – Gardening trends for 2017

January 1, 2017 – 2016 Holland Annual Report  What a year it was! Expanded snowmelt, LED lights, Home Energy Retrofit Program, Record High Voter Registrations and much more. Take a look inside Holland’s 2016 Annual Report.