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Opportunities for eco-friendly volunteers will continue after Earth Week

HOLLAND – Earth Day is Monday, April 22, and many across the country are using these spotlights to raise awareness and positive action on behalf of our natural world. Some local ways to get involved can be found in the Earth Day Toolkit, developed by the City of Holland in collaboration with the ODC Network.

While the ideas and events in the toolkit, found on the city’s website, are helpful in April’s response, there are even more events this spring to help volunteers improve these beloved environments while spending time in them.

Below are three activities open to volunteers. Registration is required for all events, which can be found under “calendar” on outdoordiscovery.org.

Monitoring macroinvertebrates on May 2

To know where interventions are most needed, we need to know where problem areas are located. One of the ways we measure the health of our area’s rivers is by monitoring the populations of various macroinvertebrates, or small aquatic insects.

Many are sensitive to pollution or changing environmental factors, so their presence or absence can be used to infer information about the condition of that area. Join a group of naturalists at Macroinvertebrate Monitoring, Thursday, May 2 from 8:30 AM to 2:00 PM as we head to local streams to collect insect samples before regrouping for identification.

For those who stay, lunch will be provided for identification purposes.

Rainscaping volunteer training on May 7 and 21

Within our watershed, we need to manage the rainwater that falls during rainfall events to prevent flooding and ensure that our underground aquifers are replenished. One way to help with this is to use rainscaping.

Rainscaping is a watershed restoration method that uses green infrastructure practices to manage stormwater where it falls, such as rain barrels, rain gardens, the use of trees or other native plants, and riparian buffers. Typically, those interested in implementing these practices at home can contact ODC, who will visit their site, conduct a free site assessment and provide resources and recommendations for site-appropriate rain protection practices.

While we are pleased that there are more and more homeowners wanting to use these techniques, we are nearing our limit of free site assessments. Join Volunteer Rainscaping Training from 10:00 AM to 11:30 AM on Tuesday, May 7 and 21, for a two-part training that informs and prepares participants to complete site assessments for others, expanding access.

Lake Macatawa cleanup at Window on the Waterfront on May 18

All organisms that rely on Lake Macatawa, as well as the wetlands near the lake, are affected by waste entering Lake Mac. Join us for the Lake Macatawa Cleanup at Window on the Waterfront from 10am to 12pm on Saturday, May 18. All necessary materials for waste collection, such as bags, gloves and grabs, are provided.

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In the Netherlands, residents and visitors share both the benefits of and responsibility for our extensive access to water. Help us care for these environments now so they can be enjoyed for years to come.

— Sarah Washabaugh is a conservationist with the ODC Network.