June 2017

Table of Contents

Macatawa Water Festival!
$26M for MACC-area Highways
Green Commute Recap

Why Cover Crops?

Macatawa Water Festival

Back for the third year in a row on Windmill Island, we hope you can join us for the Macatawa Water Festival on Saturday, July 15th. Designed to get families and children engaged with Lake Macatawa, local waterways and watershed, the festival will feature hands-on activities and educational exhibits from over two dozen partners from around the area.

Opportunities include kayaking, fishing (17 and under), biking, upcycling and recycling crafts, and other water related games and activities.
The festival is free thanks to our presenting sponsor Meijer, and our hosting partners at the Macatawa Area Coordinating Council and the Holland Hope College Sustainability Institute. Please consider joining us, we hope to see you there!
Volunteers are needed to make this event possible. If you are interested in volunteering, visit bit.ly/ODCfestival to see the openings and sign up. You can also visit OutdoorDiscovery.org or call 616-393-9453 for more information.

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$26M for MACC-area Highways

Following the $24 million investment last year to improve US31 in the MACC area, the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) is planning to spend another $26 million on 10 different projects between now and 2021. These projects range from a park-n-ride lot resurfacing to complete reconstruction of an 11-mile section of I-196. For 2017, MDOT will be constructing a “Michigan left turn” (indirect left) at the intersection of US-31 @ Bingham Street (near West Ottawa golf course). Construction is scheduled to begin in September (after Labor Day) and expected to be completed by late October. A similar type of project is scheduled for the intersection of US 31 @ Barry St. in 2018.

To learn more about future highway projects in the MACC area, please contact the MACC office at 395-2688 or sbulthuis@the-macc.org.
Click if you are interested in reviewing MDOT’s 2017-2021 Road and Bridge Program.

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Green Commute Recap

This year the Holland-Zeeland area celebrated its 10th Annual Green Commute Week. Local employers participated by encouraging teams to carpool, use MAX transit, walk, and bike to work. This resulted in a savings of more than 10,000 miles that were recorded during the Employer Commute Challenge. Winners of the Commute Challenge were Velo City Cycles, Collective Idea, Herrick District Library, and Holland BPW.

To add to the friendly competition that this event is known for, a “throw down” was initiated by Collective Idea, one of our former Employer Commute Challenge winners in the small employer category.

Throughout the week Collective Idea posted photos on social media to show team commitment and even used the lunch hour to continue to increase commute points by rollerblading, walking, and biking to the Farmer’s Market (see photo of 3 rollerbladers). This created interest

Collective Idea Employees

on Twitter and a response by newcomer, The Rental Company, with a staff member longboarding to work from Saugatuck. The two teams were so close that we had to take time to recalculate results and confirm a win by 3 points!

Competition between two large employers was also close… with Holland BPW winning the large employer category, seizing the trophy from 2016 Employer Commute Challenge winner, Thermotron, by only 2 points. A pancake breakfast was held for the Holland BPW team, which may have provided the energy to motivate the team to record a savings of 2,503 miles and staff participation of 19.6%!

Recharging Stations are a tradition during Green Commute Week and this year the Herrick District Library set up a photo booth where people could take individual poses or group photos as a team. MAX Transit again offered free rides for all Green Commute participants (with a Green Commute pin), local bike shops offered discounts on bike tune-ups, and restaurant and coffee shop discounts were also a great incentive!

Staff at Herrick District Library

We are thankful for support from the following businesses and organizations that served as Recharging Stations:  Alpenrose Restaurant, Crane’s in the City, Herrick District Library, Joe2Go, JPs Coffee & Espresso Bar, Lemonjello’s, Margarita’s, Orangeleaf Yogurt, Russ’ Restaurants, Cross Country Cycle, West Michigan Bike & Fitness, 42North, Rock’N’Road Cycle, Velo City Cycles. And in Zeeland: Mainstreet Beanery, Wolfie’s, and Main Street Bicycle Co.

Green Commute Week also had events planned for students, with a bike rodeo and a two-day School Challenge. This year 1465 students from five schools participated: Lakewood Elementary (placing first), Lakeshore Elementary (placing second), Rose Park Christian, Southside Christian, and Pine Ridge Christian.  LED Lights were delivered to each of the schools. Another school challenge is planned next fall: Oct. 4, 2017

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Why Cover Crops?

Cover Crop Mix

With planting season in the rear-view mirror farmers in the watershed are looking forward to more than watching their crops grow. Between scouting fields, managing weeds and diseases, and maintaining equipment it is time to start planning for next year. Planning for next year’s crop often starts with cover crops in the fall or late summer. With the increased interest in soil health and increased scrutiny from the environmental community it is becoming easier to get farmers involved in agricultural best management practices, and cover crops are typically an easy place to start. Cover crops are typically planted after the farmer’s main crop is harvested. Cover crops are becoming more popular every year as farmers learn to incorporate them into their current management practices and crop rotations. Cover crops have numerous benefits, they are used to help improve soil health by adding needed organic material and improving water infiltration. Many cover crops are selected for their abilities to hold and maintain nutrients and then keeping those nutrients available for next year’s crop.

The MACC has funding available to help get farmers get started on the journey of cover crops. Aside from the benefits that cover crops have for soil health and nutrient retention they also help improve water quality in the Macatawa Watershed. Keeping a growing plant in fields dramatically reduces soil and sediment movement by holding on to those particle with their root systems. They also help reduce the amount of erosion happening when rain drops fall onto fields. As mentioned previously when cover crops improve water infiltration and nutrient retention we are effectively keeping those nutrient out of the Lake either by infiltration into the soil or being retained in the plant structure.  The MACC currently has around 1,300 acres of land under contract to plant cover crops this summer and fall. It’s a great start but we certainly have much room to improve that number. Questions on funding and cover crops can be directed to Agricultural Technician, Rob Vink at rvink@the-macc.org