A buffer strip is an area of land maintained in permanent vegetation to help control water quality. 400 feet of buffer strip was planted adjacent to farmland located on Hunderman Creek (2nd worst basin – Upper Macatawa River). Walters Gardens donated a native switch grass planted in the buffer section. This wall of native grass will provide a permanent water filtration barrier, filtering water running off field and keeping soil on the land.
Growing cover crops is a beneficial practice to reduce nutrient and sediment losses from agricultural fields and improve water quality. Grown at the end of the growing season and kept on the field until spring, cover crops also increase soil health through enhancing soil organic matter content. Varieties of cover crops can include wheat, oats, rye, radishes, and many more. Hundreds of acres are in cover crop across the watershed, including fields farmed by Dykhuis Farms, Walters Gardens, and G R Brinks Heritage Farm.
A two-stage ditch consists of a natural base flow channel with floodplain “benches” which are adjacent to the base flow channel within a drainage ditch. They provide a larger water holding capacity at high flows which can reduce bank erosion and downstream flooding. Three two-stage ditch projects have been completed through Project Clarity to date, covering over a mile of drain.
The Project Clarity Team has worked with several local municipalities to help review and offer input on new storm water management programs. We continue to pursue these opportunities as the municipalities implement improvements to roads and drain systems in their jurisdictions.
Several conversations were held with local drain commissioners and the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) about creating water detention areas (ponds and wetlands) along portions of the Tulip Intercounty Drain (North Branch) to decrease flooding. MDOT and the drain offices are working on a plan to change the management process of the drain and aligning it with the watershed restoration goals.
Approximately 140 acres of land was purchased along the Middle Macatawa (Between 96th Ave. & 88th Ave). This property now connects over one mile of land adjacent to the Macatawa River located in the first and second worst subwatersheds.
During the late summer of 2015, restoration work was undertaken over approximately forty acres on the south side of the property. Formerly pastureland that had laid fallow for roughly thirty years, the site is within the floodplain of the river, but did not flood as often due to the river cutting deeper into its own channel due to higher flows. Restoration work included placing a pipe from the river to an excavated area in the floodplain. The spoils from the excavated area created nearly three quarters of a mile of berm that surrounds the excavated area, and will detain floodwater for several additional weeks, allowing sediment and nutrients to settle out. We hope to one day incorporate the site into the Macatawa Greenway trail system.
This project features both a wetland restoration and farming under best management practices. Haworth Corporation offered Project Clarity this 150-acre parcel adjacent to both their world headquarters and the North Branch of the Macatawa River. 70 acres were donated to Project Clarity, on which a 42-acre wetland restoration was completed. It is made up of four basins that collect and store water from adjacent properties and the river during periods of high flow. The newly created wetland will be part of wetland mitigation bank, which are credits developers can buy when disturbing wetlands at development sites. These funds will help ensure long-term protection, maintenance, and monitoring at this and other Project Clarity locations.
Further information on our mitigation bank and how you can request credits is available at mitigationbank.org.
On the remaining acreage, Schipper Eggs will farm roughly 75 acres using best management practices. This will include no-till farming, cover crops, buffers, and other techniques designed to keep soil on the field and keep the field productive.
Under the Paw Paw Foot Bridge, located near 104th and Washington, Noordeloos Creek was eroding 6 to 12 inches of streambank annually, threatening a gazebo, the bridge, and the park itself. The City of Zeeland and Project Clarity partnered to restore 300 feet of streambank on the south side of Noordeloos Creek. The bank was lowered, stone riprap was installed to absorb the energy of the creek, and native vegetation and bushes were planted to stabilize the bank. The project was completed in the fall of 2014, stopping up to 100,000 pounds of sediment from washing into the creek and making its way down to the lake each year.
This 16-acre parcel, donated to Project Clarity, is located on the North Branch, the third worst tributary. Site planning will include converting 11 of the 16 acres to vegetated wetland, stabilizing heavily degraded stream bank and providing additional flood storage. Final engineering and restoration calculations are being completed and the project is scheduled to begin in 2015 once permits and restoration funding is secured.
In April 2014, Project Clarity purchased a 12-acre homestead in the Middle Macatawa area spanning both sides of the Macatawa River. Prior owners drained the land to build a dirt bike track, resulting in sediment runoff into the Macatawa River. The house and 3.2 acres were parceled off and resold. The restoration work on the remaining parcel north of the river was completed in August, 2014. Restoration created one acre foot of water storage and restored the natural hydrology to the site. The remaining part of the property was included in the Middle Mac South restoration, including the location of the inlet pipe that allows flood waters into the site.
A community-wide informational signage plan is under development. Kiosks and wayside signage will be placed throughout the community in high visibility parks and open spaces where people can see and learn about Project Clarity, the Macatawa Greenway, and the Macatawa Watershed.
Several schools within the Ottawa Area Intermediate School District (OAISD) are including Project Clarity in their classrooms. During the summer of 2014, FuturePREP, a summer program led by the OAISD, had teachers and students participating in a study of Project Clarity’s water quality best practices. Results of their findings were presented to local community business leaders. The Project Clarity presentation can be viewed here.
Over the last decade, Outdoor Discovery Center Macatawa Greenway and the Macatawa Watershed Project led the coordination of several community-wide educational events on water quality. The 2014 Water Festival was held on July 26 at the 8th Street Farmers Market. Many vendors, including local municipalities, participated and hundreds of community residents attended. The 2015 Water Festival is in the planning stages scheduled for late July. Plans are in the works for a bigger and better event that will set the stage for our community’s response to improving water quality in our watershed and lake.
Since the launch of Project Clarity’s Comprehensive Restoration Plan in August 2013, hundreds of lake residents and business leaders have learned about Project Clarity and the work in progress to improve water quality in our watershed and lake.
We continue to welcome the opportunity to share Project Clarity throughout our community. If you or your business, church, or neighborhood are interested in scheduling a presentation, please contact the Outdoor Discovery Center Macatawa Greenway 616-393-9453 or firstname.lastname@example.org.