November 2020

Table of Contents

Bidding Farewell
MACC Annual Report
Macatawa Watershed Annual Report
Hope College Student Research

Bidding Farewell

Two MACC employees have or will be moving on to new opportunities. Rob Vink, Project Manger, started a new position in late October and Carolyn Ulstad, Transportation Planner, will be moving and starting a new job in Traverse City in the coming week. The MACC greatly appreciates both of their efforts with the MACC and will greatly miss them. We wish them all the best in their new and future endeavors!

From Rob:

It has been a great experience working at the MACC. Along with our many partners we have made big steps for conservation in the agricultural community. My time at the MACC has come to an end. I am excited to start a new job but sad to leave one that has brought fulfillment and satisfaction for nearly 4 years. I will continue to work with farmers in the Holland and Zeeland area as a Crop Consultant at Nutrien Ag. Solutions in West Olive. The past several years have made a huge impact on my life and will undoubtedly shape my future interactions with farmers, even in a retail setting. Thank you to all my wonderful colleagues at the MACC and to the many great partners I have had the opportunity to work with. I know our paths will cross again and I look forward to continuing the work of promoting sound agricultural conservation practices in and beyond the Macatawa Watershed. Rob Vink, rob.vink@nutrien.com

From Carolyn:

The MACC has been a major part of my life over the past seven years and leaving the organization will be a big transition. I recently opened my Outlook calendar and went month by month from my first day in the spring of 2013 to now, reviewing all of the different meetings, events, and projects I’ve worked on. It’s been an incredible learning experience and I’m immensely thankful to everyone I’ve been able to work with over the years. In December my husband and I will be moving up to the Traverse City region where I’ll start collaborating with the team at Groundwork, working to advance transit, rail, pedestrian, and cycling infrastructure. We will greatly miss the Holland area but are excited to take on a new adventure and be able to spend more time with family and friends up north.

Carolyn and Rob sampling macroinvertebrates at the Upper Macatawa Natural Area, Fall 2018.

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MACC Annual Report

The MACC’s 2020 Annual Report is now available. The report includes a summary of accomplishments from both our Transportation and Environmental Program as well as a summary of the Community Enhancement Program. Click the image at the right to view the report.

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Macatawa Watershed Annual Report

A 2020 Macatawa Watershed Annual Report is also available. This report includes more detail of the activities of the Environmental Program, including outreach and education efforts, stormwater management, agricultural conservation, and other projects. Click the image at the left to read the report.

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Hope College Student Research

The Macatawa Watershed Annual meeting was held via Zoom on Monday, November 16, from 6:30-8:30pm. The meeting featured presentations from three groups of Hope College Advanced Environmental Seminar Students. Topics included presence of heavy metals in Lake Macatawa sediment, bioaccumulation of heavy metals in earthworms and macro plastic pollution in storm drain discharge.

The team of Kaylee DeRoo, Helen Holt, Christian Lundy, and Jacob VanderRoest studied the presence of heavy metals in Lake Macatawa sediment. They were interested in this topic based on previous student research that looked at concentrations of heavy metals in fish. The main questions they wanted to answer included which metals were present and at which concentration, are concentrations dependent on location and are the concentrations at a level of concern. They sampled sediment from the north and south sides of the river near Window on the Waterfront where there is a history of industrial use. They did find measurable amounts of lead, cadmium, chromium, and selenium, but did not find detectable limits of arsenic at any location. The highest concentration of most samples were well below both the Michigan and EPA standards, the one exception being several samples with selenium higher than the Michigan standard.

The team of Dominic DeVito, Erin Kahn, and Madison Kerber studied bioaccumulation of heavy metals in earthworms. They were interested in this topic to estimate potential exposure risk to the  local environment and ecosystem via biomagnification. Biomagnification is a process where concentrations of toxic chemicals increase in tissue as they move up the food chain. The main questions they wanted to answer included what are the concentrations of cadmium, chromium, lead and nickel in earthworms, are concentrations dependent on locations, how do the locations correlate with human exposure, and what are the biomagnification risks and possible ecological of human health implications. They collected worms from 11 sites throughout the watershed that included various landuses (industrial, agricultural, residential, natural). All of the samples analyzed were found to be within safe limits according to several different environmental standards, including from the World Health Organization and the State of Michigan. Overall, the determined that industrial and residential sites had higher concentrations, but there was low risk since all concentrations were within safe limits.

The team of Kaelyn Lagerwall, Kate Kay, and Alex Vasquez studied macro plastic pollution in storm drain discharge. They were interested in this topic based on previous studies of microplastic pollution and the need to understand the upstream sources of plastic pollution. The main questions they wanted to answer was if plastic pollution was present in storm drain discharge, what is the most common type, size and state of the plastic pollution, and how do major rain events impact the amount. They collected plastic pollution from two location, one at Window on the Waterfront and one near Visser Farms on Chicago Drive. They found a greater amount of plastic pollution at the Visser Farm site. At both locations, the dominant type of plastic was packaging materials. They did not find a significant relationship between abundance or total weight and rainfall. Overall, based on the amount of plastic found at these two locations, it indicates that this could be a severe issue over time as more and more pollution accumulates.

You can view a video of both the student presentations and other updates provided at the meeting here.

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