History and Environmental Issues in the Lake Macatawa Watershed

Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Steven Bouma-Prediger, Hope College

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In researching the natural history of Holland, Michigan, an issue of great environmental significance that quickly emerges is the health of Lake Macatawa, which lies just blocks away from Hope College’s campus, and its encompassing watershed. A watershed is an area drained by a body of water; in the context of Holland, water is drained from surrounding rivers and wetlands through Lake Macatawa, and eventually into Lake Michigan. I approach this topic from a historical standpoint, examining from the distance of over a century and a half the effects of human impact, specifically in terms of land usage, on the health of the watershed. I will show that since its settlement by the Dutch, the environment of Holland has been significantly altered and neglected, and the Lake Macatawa Watershed has been damaged as a result. The watershed is in a state of hypereutrophia, brought about by excessive phosphorous levels due to pollution. This condition makes it difficult for life to flourish in the watershed, and it is the main concern of those who care about protecting and preserving Holland’s beautiful natural environment.

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