Spring 2021

Table of Contents

Macatawa Rainscaping Program
MACC Welcomes New Transportation Planner
Lawn Care & Landscaping Partners Program
Agricultural Update
Lakeshore Cleanup Coalition
Watershed Management Planning
Water Quality Improvements in the Harlem Drain
Project Clarity 2020 Dashboard

Macatawa Rainscaping Program

Rainscaping is a method of watershed restoration that manages rain water where it falls. Rainscaping includes practices like rain barrels, rain gardens, tree planting, native plantings, and riparian buffers. The Macatawa Rainscaping Program promotes awareness and implementation of these practices among homeowners, landscapers and contractors. This program is not unique to the Macatawa Watershed. The Lower Grand River Organization of Watersheds started the program in West Michigan, and graciously worked with the MACC to share materials and provide training in how to run the program. The MACC then worked with several local partners – Hope College, Holland BPW and ODC Network – to customize the program for the Macatawa Watershed.

The Macatawa Rainscaping Program include 3 main components:

Volunteer Training – We will train volunteers to conduct site assessments for homeowners and make recommendations for using rainscaping practices. The training is free and open to anyone 18 and up. We held our first volunteer training sessions on April 14 and 21. We will assign trained volunteers to complete assessments as homeowners request them.

Homeowner Site Assessments – Any homeowner in the Macatawa Watershed can request a free site assessment through the MACC’s website. Why request a site assessment? Because you are interested in one or more of the rainscpaing practices, because you have wet spot in your lawn every time it rains, because you want to conserve water, because you are tired of mowing your lawn, because you want to help protect Lake Macatawa, and many other reasons.

Contractor Training – We are working with partners to develop a contractor training that will be held in February 2022. This training will help landscapers and other contractors learn more about installing, inspecting and maintaining rainscaping practices. Once contractors complete the course, we will place them on a list of certified contractors that homeowners can contact if they want help installing rainscaping practices.

To learn more, sign up as a volunteer or request a site assessment, click here.

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MACC Welcomes New Transportation Planner

The MACC is excited to introduce our newest staff addition: Anton Schauerte. Anton’s responsibilities will include managing the MACC’s long-range and short-range transportation plans, pavement evaluation program (PASER) and the annual Green Commute Week. Prior to joining the MACC, Anton worked as a Transportation Planner in central Florida on projects related to short-range planning, mapping traffic and demographic data, as well as graphic design.

Anton received his B.A. in Urban Studies from the University of Minnesota (Twin Cities) and is currently finishing his Master’s degree in Urban & Regional Planning from Ball State University in Indiana. He has also served as an AmeriCorps State/National Member, both in as a community organizer in Detroit and as a crew leader for an environmental non-profit in Salida, Colorado.

Outside of work, Anton enjoys photography, winter camping (in Florida), long-distance bicycle touring and traveling. Some of his goals include riding his bicycle across the U.S., and visiting 50 countries and all 50 states. So far, he’s visited 24 countries and 48 states.

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Lawn Care & Landscaping Partners Program

The MACC has been working with local lawn care and landscaping companies since 2006 to promote and encourage practices that protect water quality. In 2021, 17 companies signed a statement of commitment to follow these practices. You can learn more about the program and view a list of participating companies here.

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Agricultural Update

The MACC was sad to say goodbye to our Project Manager, Rob Vink, last fall. His primary responsibility was to work with area farmers to plan and install conservation practices. Rob worked with seven producers last fall to plan and implement cover crops. A Great Lakes Commission Grant supported by Project Clarity, provided funding to help offset the cost of adding this practice into their operations. In total, producers planted 1,120 acres of cover crops and received $57,000 to cover the costs. The producers contributed an additional $4,200. All seven producers will continue planting cover crops in 2021 and 2022.

Cover crops are non-harvested crops that are planted either before or right after a cash crop is harvested. They help protect the soil from erosion when a crop is not growing. Cover crops also help scavenge nutrients from the soil, support a healthy soil biology, increase soil organic matter, and provide other benefits.

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Lakeshore Cleanup Coalition

The MACC and six local partners received a Trash Free Waters Grant from the EPA last summer. Through this grant, we will host volunteer beach and river cleanups throughout Ottawa and Allegan County coastlines and conduct public education.

Despite initial delays due to COVID, in summer/fall 2020, we held 13 events. In total, volunteers spent 482 hours and picked up 695 pounds of trash! Events included two with 95 Hope College students that gave up a Saturday morning for a chance to pick up trash.

The majority of the trash picked up was plastic, though some beaches have quite a bit of large lumber that washed up due to shoreline erosion caused by high water and storms. Much of the large lumber was stockpiled on certain beaches and will be removed via barge later this summer.

We held several events already this spring and many more are still scheduled. You can find a full list of events here. You must register in advance for all events and follow COVID protocols.

If you cannot make it to an event, you can still participate by doing your own beach, river or neighborhood cleanup as you take a walk or kayak trip. The best way to keep our waters trash free is to pick up trash off the ground so it doesn’t end up in the water. All you really need is a bucket or trash bag and a pair of gloves. You can also report what you pick up using the Clean Swell app (free download). If you use the app, include “LCC” in the group name so we can easily find and download your data. Learn more about how to use Clean Swell and watch an instructional video on this website.

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Watershed Management Planning

The Macatawa Watershed Management Plan was last updated in 2012. Since then, the MACC and partners have implemented numerous conservation practices, public education and other activities outlined in the plan. Watershed Management Plans are typically written for 10 years, so it is time for an update. We are working to secure funding to support this work and hope to have an updated plan drafted by mid 2023. Much of the work will be done by MACC staff and partners to evaluate and re-write sections of the plan, and there will be various opportunities for public input. We will hire consultants to complete a few of the needed updates.

The Grand Valley State University’s Annis Water Resources Institute is currently working on two projects that are critical for the update. One team is conducting a public education survey. If you live in the watershed, you may have received a survey in the mail. We hope you took the time to fill it out and extend our thanks to those who did! The results will help us determine future educational topics and delivery methods. A second team is updating a digital land use data. Land use is important for various models that will help determine where to focus future efforts to implement conservation practices as well as policy changes.

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Water Quality Improvements in the Harlem Drain

By Dan Callam, ODC Network

The Ottawa County Water Resources office has been performing extensive maintenance work along the Harlem Drain this spring. The northernmost tributary to Lake Macatawa, the Harlem Drain runs into Pine Creek, from there emptying into Pine Creek Bay. Along with some of these maintenance activities, the crews have been installing nearly a mile of two-stage channel along the section of stream near Macatawa Golf Club. This extra shelf provides additional storage for floodwater and vegetation for filtration. Project Clarity was pleased to help support this project, as the Water Resources office continues their work improving water quality throughout the county by creating greener, more sustainable waterway projects.

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Project Clarity 2020 Dashboard

The GVSU Annis Water Resources Institute has been conducting water quality monitoring in the Macatawa Watershed since 2013. They produce annual reports detailing monitoring results and a dashboard report summarizing conditions in Lake Macatawa (phosphorus is pictured at right). There are many factors that influence water quality, including snowmelt, rainfall, temperature, conservation efforts, and the timing of sample collection. 2020 results continue to show variability in the data, but also show that water quality is improving, especially since 2013 when Project Clarity helped to accelerate restoration efforts. Both the full monitoring reports and dashboards from 2014-2020 are available here.

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