The way land is used in a watershed has a direct effect on the health of rivers and streams. Increased development usually means increased erosion, organic and chemical pollution, and resulting problems in the ecology of the river ecosystem.
The Thornapple watershed is experiencing an exponential period of growth and development, especially in the Caledonia, Ada and Cascade areas. Barry county is starting to develop as well. Some new project is started every day, and developers do not build with the health of the watershed taken into consideration. Ecologically sound development is not yet a priority.
To view analyzed color images of land use trends in Kent County, Michigan, go to this site for beautiful "right-brain" maps. I will warn you that they take lots of time to load in your browser; however, they are well worth the wait. These images are courtesy of Michigan State University's Institute of Water Research. For more information about these images, contact the director, (Institute of Water Research), at Michigan State.