Salmon Safe Soapbox
Photo by Barry Kovish

Driven by cost and conscience, Oregon's golf courses are going green

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Oregonian

It may be that golf's swing mantra -- keep your head down -- keeps players focused on birdies, not birds. But whether golfers notice or not, when the gallery along the ninth fairway at Stone Creek Golf Club in Oregon City includes a dive-bombing kestrel and a redtail hawk, it's apparent that change is making the turn. Specifically, golf is getting greener. Across the United States, but especially in the Pacific Northwest and particularly in the Portland area, golf courses are adopting environmentally sustainable practices... The Portland group Salmon-Safe is developing its own checklist of measurable standards for golf courses. Meeting them would allow a course to boast that it's been certified as a place where the course management practices don't harm fish...

Read the article at the oregonian.

Wildlife corridors border the fairways at Stone Creek Golf Club in Oregon City, recently named among the nation's top 10 environmentally friendly golf courses.

It may be that golf's swing mantra -- keep your head down -- keeps players focused on birdies, not birds. But whether golfers notice or not, when the gallery along the ninth fairway at Stone Creek Golf Club in Oregon City includes a dive-bombing kestrel and a redtail hawk, it's apparent that change is making the turn.

Specifically, golf is getting greener. Across the United States, but especially in the Pacific Northwest and particularly in the Portland area, golf courses are adopting environmentally sustainable practices. They are using far less water, fertilizer and weed-killer than before and employing grass varieties that can thrive without meticulous care.

Superintendent David Phipps adjusts the sprinkler controls at Stone Creek. The 1,200 sprinkler heads can be individually manipulated, allowing crews to irrigate only where water is needed.

It's become par for the course for golf superintendents to leave dead trees for habitat, encourage native pollinators and maintain wildlife corridors. The courses themselves, often veined with creeks and wetlands, have taken on new roles as community protectors by receiving, storing and controlling storm water. Water hazards -- where wayward shots go to drown -- double as homes for ducks, geese, turtles and frogs.

Reasons for the change include money and apprehension about being targeted for lawsuits or government regulation. But many golf course superintendents also say sustainability is an ethos that has taken root in settings once known for entitlement, exclusion and manipulation of the environment.

The turnabout hasn't escaped the notice of environmental groups, which welcome a partnership with properties that often are the largest expanse of green space in urban areas -- and properties that were once a primary target of environmentalists' ire.

Nineteen Oregon golf courses are certified as sanctuaries by Audubon International, based in New York state.The certification process examines wildlife management and habitat, water conservation and quality practices, chemical use and community outreach, among other tests.

"If it's a certified sanctuary, you're looking at a place that has looked at its environmental footprint, made a plan, taken action and documented their results," says program manager Joellen Lampman.

The Portland group Salmon-Safe is developing its own checklist of measurable standards for golf courses. Meeting them would allow a course to boast that it's been certified as a place where the course management practices don't harm fish.

"From the work we've done so far, we've seen some extraordinary stewardship in place," director Dan Kent says.

A killdeer runs across the course at Stone Creek, looking for a meal. The golf course is one of 19 in Oregon that are certified as sanctuaries by Audubon International. Certification requires a review of a course's water and chemical use, wildlife habitat management and community outreach.

 

Cost a big motivator

It wasn't always that way. Golf courses, often 150 acres or larger, are known for prodigious water use. Even the most environmentally conscious courses can use 300,000 gallons a night during the summer. In the past, some courses put blue dye in ponds and lakes to make them look more appealing and poured on the fertilizer and pesticide to create lush, weed-free, uniform playing surfaces.

But management practices have gradually changed over the past 20 years.

"You can see the writing on the wall," says Jesse Goodling, superintendent at Portland's city-owned Heron Lakes Golf Course. "You do need to be proactive and have all your ducks in a row -- and do the right thing, too."

Cost is a big motivator. Water, fertilizer and pesticides are expensive and require labor; reducing their use saves money. Better irrigation technology and less toxic products have helped as well. Heron Lakes has reduced its pesticide use by one-third to one-half over the past five years, Goodling says, and is transitioning to using a blend of bentgrass on its putting surfaces instead of poa annua, which needs more care.

Course workers have planted trees, let the rough grow longer to shelter wildlife, reduced watering on non-playing areas and established buffers around ponds. Nearly 60 heron nests have been counted, and herons literally walk the fairways at the facility's two courses. Osprey, bald eagles, river otters, deer, coyotes, raccoons and other animals co-exist with plaid-panted duffers, Goodling says.

Golf organizations began researching environmental practices in the late 1980s, says Greg Lyman, environmental programs manager with the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America, based in Lawrence, Kan. The work reflected society's increased questioning of the impact of products we use in our homes, yards and workplaces.

"Where do all the inputs go, how are they managed and what's the best way to handle them in a responsible fashion?" he asks. "It's the same evolution we're seeing in society in general.

"Golf courses understand that being proactive environmentally and pushing the envelope on sustainability is directly linked to the success of the industry and the game," Lyman says. "It's a game played on a plant. We have to do it responsibly, otherwise this is a shrinking business."

 

On the green

 

Unless you're talking about putting, using "green" and "golf" in the same sentence may be counter-intuitive -- like when the club pro says "swing easy" to hit the ball far. And although golf hasn't been known as especially enlightened when it comes to sustainable practices, that's changing. Course superintendents and environmental groups list ways that courses can become better stewards:

Avoid wasting water by using computer-controlled sprinklers, which allow selective watering of spots that need it rather than drenching the entire course.

Maintain no-spray, no-mow buffer zones around water hazards to help birds, frogs and turtles survive.

Use grass seed blends and native plants that require less fertilizer and pesticide to thrive.

Encourage birds to take up residence by leaving dead trees standing.

Develop unmanaged wildlife corridors between holes and along streams.

Educate golfers with signs that point out habitat and explain management practices.

--Eric Mortenson

 

 

A national model

At Stone Creek, the redtail hawk allows course superintendent David Phipps to approach within 40 feet on a golf cart and snap a few pictures before flapping off for another perch.

Owned by Clackamas County, the course has emerged as an environmental model for courses across the country. Under Phipps, the course won Environmental Leaders in Golf merit and regional awards from Golf Digest magazine from 2004-07, and in 2008 was named the nation's best public course in the same award category.

Stone Creek was named 2004-05 "Cooperator of the Year" by the Clackamas County Soil & Water Conservation District, and is one of Audubon International's certified sanctuaries. In June, Links magazine named Stone Creek to the eighth spot of its top 10 environmentally friendly courses, finishing one spot ahead of California's famed Pebble Beach Golf Links.

Links magazine cited Stone Creek's wildlife corridors, integrated pest management program, limited pesticide use, irrigation practices, pond buffer zones and its twice-annual water testing program. All the work is done voluntarily, Phipps says.

Driving the cart, Phipps points out some of the course's sustainable highlights. To save water, Stone Creek is using fine fescue grass seed blends on its fairways. Its 1,200 sprinkler heads can be individually programmed to put water only where it's needed.

"I think courses can be over-watered pretty easily," Phipps says. Reducing irrigation "makes the roots search for water, they go deeper, and the deeper they go the more drought-resistant they are."

Bubbling aerators, not chemicals, control algae bloom in ponds. Dead trees are left standing to attract insects, which in turn attract birds. On a bare hillside, Phipps points out holes that serve as underground nests for six species of native bees. A nearby sign explains the significance to passing golfers. Each year, Phipps and volunteer experts lead sixth-graders on a birding tour of the course.

When burrowing voles posed a problem, Phipps' crew erected a hawk perch in tall grass. The predators control the rodents. Bass in the ponds control mosquitoes and serve as osprey food. Twenty-two bird boxes are scattered about the course. Wildlife corridors of brush and trees allow larger animals to pass through the course undisturbed.

As if on cue, a doe and fawn rise from tall grass near the fourth-hole tee. The doe trots off warily, but the fawn steps within a few feet of Phipps before realizing he's not family and bounding away.

Phipps is an avid golfer and counts a hole-in-one on Stone Creek's second hole as a personal highlight. But days like this, when golfers share space with hawks and deer, are a bonus.

"I think this is half the beauty of the golf course," he says. "This is the fun part of the job."

--Eric Mortenson; ericmortenson@news.oregonian.com

Share |

sterling silver flatware

I am curious on the way you write down this topic can be so detailed. This is the kind of content that will give clearance to this issue. Great post !...sterling silver flatware

All the posts was very

All the posts was very useful. Your very own commitment to getting the message throughout came to be rather powerful and have consistently enabled readers to arrive at their desired goals. I do not know what I would have done if I had not encountered such a step like this. informasi terkini

http://www.rebelmouse.com

Industrial Paints and Coatings

I admire the valuable information you offer in your articles. I will bookmark your blog and have my children check up here often. I am quite sure they will learn lots of new stuff here than anybody else! Industrial Paints and Coatings

sterling silver flatware

Im thoroughly enjoying the smart way you write articles in this blog. Here is an aspiring blog and really appreciate it. This blog is the first place that help me find this information...sterling silver flatware

vibrating exercise machine

American Community Survey

Using data from the American Community Survey, the authors take a snapshot of unemployment among post-9/11 veterans and members of military families.

I'm sure there will be more

I'm sure there will be more delighted opportunities ahead for people that visit your site. The topic you've written is definitely an interesting subject. Wish you a good continuation payday loans

EMdzXEEvgei

Akülü İstif Makinası Trans Paletler Zincirli Vinç

Akülü İstif Makinası Trans Paletler Zincirli Vinç

led

Had proved, blu-ray will damage to the retina. But, this two points can infer the led street light have damage to the eyes? "Of course not." Shanghai ent hospital cloth bosom said, "blue light is not unique to white LED lamps led corn lights,led light bulbs, mobile phone and computer screen are rich in blue light, our hospital has never received eye injury cases by using new led lights."

Im thoroughly enjoying the

Im thoroughly enjoying the smart way you write articles in this blog. Here is an aspiring blog and really appreciate it. This blog is the first place that help me find this information old school new body

. Thank you for your great

. Thank you for your great share. Also this is my 1st visit at your site and after visiting your site i enjoyed. wholesale jerseys

nice

Thanks for sharing

dell laptop hard drive

Hi, a person produced this

Hi, a person produced this article great plenty of, much better for the following post ought to associated with post even more fascinating structured settlement buyers

You make so many great points

You make so many great points here that I read your article a couple of times. Your views are in accordance with my own for the most part. This is great content for your readers.
chimney sweep Houston

Zhang truth, mbt trainers

Zhang truth, mbt trainers Suqian proposed denied expensive than bread flour, mbt Shuyang low price strategy is proposed. I was reminded, http://www.thedolphingiftshop.com/ Suqian real estate market has just started, put the slogan will suppress the real estate market boom. One, prices do not increase, the Government did not land revenue money, the second source of finance will lose, do not go up on urban construction; two, prices do not increase, http://www.hlbbt.co.uk/ a large real estate companies are reluctant to come in, not on city building grade go to the house of quality will not be good. But what are the results, the facts speak.

online facebook hack

I notify that this is the first place where I find issues and topics I've been searching for. The post has a top quality. This post you have made here couldn't be written any better! Fairly certain this article will have a good read....online facebook hack

I am curious on the way you

I am curious on the way you write down this topic can be so detailed. This is the kind of content that will give clearance to this issue. Great post ! venus factor

Question

Now I am looking for inspiration in my life and I wonder if these golf courses can inspire me as I hope/wish.

Awsome post

sandhi sudha plus
Meanwhile, consumers supporting farmers that employ fish-friendly practices benefit the entire region, said Zach Stevenson, who works for the World Wildlife Fund’s Klamath-Siskiyou Ecoregion.

how to influence people

Thanks a lot very much for the high quality and results-oriented help. I won’t think twice to endorse your blog post to anybody who wants and needs support about this area.
how to influence people

You have a natural way of

You have a natural way of writing yet seem to have so much passion about this issue. You have put it in a way that everyone can understand. You definitely know what you were talking about and seem to have a very high interest on the topic how to save my marriage

haynes t-shirt

be a part of where I can get a lot of valuable and beneficial advice from other experienced people that share this information. Thanks for helpful guidelines and basically excellent info haynes t-shirt

weed-killer than before and

weed-killer than before and employing grass varieties that can thrive without meticulous care. cash structured settlement

xbox live gratuit

I really liked the movie avatar and even watched the movie many times but the movie True Defenders of the Land do not know yet, so curious to watch....xbox live gratuit

Live well

I don’t know but why i don’t find such informative and profitable blogs so often,I suspect blogging world is becoming so small that we cant find such lucrative blogs like this one.website

Why Liquid Vitamins for

Nyenengke

Akhirnya ini sing terakhir buat hari ini... besok besok mampir lagi.. Thank You
chaussure de securite pour femme | macam macam batik dan penjelasanya |
deckenventilator mit fernbedienung

While other Dissertation

While other Dissertation writing services sell pre-written papers, we deliver dissertations and essays that are written from scratch, according to your precise specifications. Duo Residences Corals At Keppel Bay

While other Dissertation

While other Dissertation writing services sell pre-written papers, we deliver dissertations and essays that are written from scratch, according to your precise specifications. The Skywoods Kensington Square

Hello, you created this

Hello, you created this article is good enough, better for your next article should make the article more interesting motivational thoughts

ri wedding photographers

Fantastic Article, it is great to finally find worthwhile info online, I am honestly suprised to encounter a blog that is not full of the usual garbage, bless you...ri wedding photographers

I am sure to all the

I am sure to all the commenters here! I was very encouraged to find this site. I am no longer certain the place you're getting your information, but great topic. I must spend some time finding out much more or figuring out more. Thanks for magnificent info I was searching for this info for my mission. - Amy Anderson

school furniture

This is some things in here I have not thought about before.It really very useful post. Thanks for sharing such beneficial resources.very nice post! thanks and I will wait for next one!!!...school furniture

thanks

Thank you for this blog. That's all I can say. You most definitely have made this blog into something thats eye opening and important. You clearly know so much about the subject, youve covered so many bases. Great stuff from this part of the internet. Again, thank you for this blog.
cara Menghilangkan Jerawat
Chinos
Celana Chino
Celana Chinos

They should spend a lot of

They should spend a lot of money to make it green. The process will also take a long time.
Fishing Trips Charters Sitka Alaska

name my company

Hey! Would you mind if I share your blog with my twitter group? There’s a lot of folks that I think would really enjoy your content. Please let me know. Thank you! name my company

This is some things in here I

This is some things in here I have not thought about before.It really very useful post. Thanks for sharing such beneficial resources.very nice post! thanks and I will wait for next one!!!

general contractor san diego ca

gooapple i5

Fantastic Article, it is great to finally find worthwhile info online, I am honestly suprised to encounter a blog that is not full of the usual garbage, bless you.
gooapple i5

I notify that this is the

I notify that this is the first place where I find issues and topics I've been searching for. I am so thrilled I found your website while I was browsing . Anyhow I am here now and would just like to say thanks a lot teknik sipil

club penguin cheats Crew

club penguin cheats Crew provides the latest Club Penguin Cheats, codes, news, sneak peeks, videos, interesting articles and fun activities. About these ads....

dc in cable TOP QUALITY

dc in cable TOP QUALITY Laptop Parts, DC Power Jack with Cable, DC Jack, DC IN Cable, Power Board, CPU Cooling Fan, for Acer Asus Dell HP Compaq, Lenovo, ...

Come visit my website, thank

Come visit my website, thank you for the information you publish. With this adds to my general knowledge, so I do not miss the information. Require graphic design please visit our website,That's all and thank you Wedding Poster Design

After a person dies, the ones

After a person dies, the ones that are left behind tend to worry about the destiny or the fate of the deceased. Many people tend to feel fear and apprehension about what will happen to not just the ones who are left behind but also to the deceased. Funeral poems to remember a loved one can be used to bring
http://monuments.jigsy.com

The clarity in your post is

The clarity in your post is so detailed that naturally can be assumed you really have adequate knowledge on this subject. I am commenting to let you know, This web page has written in awesome style of writing.
cell phone spy
clubmz reviews

Good job! I have found many

Good job! I have found many articles to read but you do a good thing. That is a boy. Thank you so much for sharing the delicious post. Expect your next article.
Tapetes con logo

The most optimistic view,

The most optimistic view, http://www.hlbbt.com/ even though consumer prices may rebound in December to close to the 3% level, but should not be disturbed by the America government.