Furniture maker donates land


Seventy acres of unused property at the lakeshore will be transformed into wetlands, a butterfly habitat, a farm and a hands-on science classroom.

Holland-based office furniture maker Haworth is donating the land to the $12-million watershed restoration effort known as Project Clarity.

A groundbreaking is set for next week, and wetland vegetation will be planted by fall.

Haworth bought the land in the 1980s with plans for a manufacturing expansion, but that didn't happen.

The land was estimated to be worth about $500,000, before Haworth donated it to Project Clarity by Outdoor Discovery Center-Macatawa Greenway.

"I'm a big fan of getting the whole system into the room to analyze problems," said Dick Haworth, chairman emeritus, Haworth.

Wetlands will capture water from agricultural and industrial properties, as well as overflow from the nearby north branch of the 1,700-acre Macatawa River when floodwaters rise. The wetlands will have the capacity to hold the equivalent of more than 86 acres covered by a foot of water.

The transaction also included a "very significant donation" of an undisclosed amount to Project Clarity for construction at the site and other projects, said Steve Kooy, global sustainability manager, Haworth.

The 175-square-mile Macatawa Watershed includes 512 miles of tributaries that drain into Lake Macatawa.

Project Clarity seeks to fix the popular lake's water-quality issues by restoring wetlands to prevent runoff that contributes to sediment as well as nutrient and bacterial pollution.

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