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;

Share |


Word of love and appreciation and greeting fulfillment and private
Greeting fill all the meanings of brotherhood and friendship
Greetings from the Heart to Heart
Thank you with all my heart
العاب طبخ
and welcom to d great blog for cooking gamesMMP

obat herbal gagal ginjal

obat herbal gagal ginjal Saya bekerja di salah satu kantor perambah hutan yang beroperasi di Papua. Dikarenakan medan dan pekerjaan yang sangat berat, kekuatan fisik mutlak diperlukan, akan tetapi sekuat-kuatnya tenaga manusia tidak akan mungkin mampu bertahan selama-lamanya, suatu ketika akan sudah tidak kuat juga.
obat herbal batu ginjal Batu ini bisa terbentuk pada kandung kemih yang disebut penyakit batu ginjal.
obat herbal tbc Penyakit TBC ini paling sering menyerang organ paru-paru meskipun pada sebagian kasus menyerang organ tubuh lain serta mampu ditularkan.
obat herbal kanker prostat Penyakit Kanker Prostat yakni salah satu jenis penyakit kanker yang mana berkembang di bagian prostat, suatu kelenjar dalam sistem reproduksi pria.

Great Work !

You are doing a great work.
Amazing work, Hats off dear.

Midbrain Activation | Midbrain Activation For Adults | Midbrain

Love marriage solution

This article is really contains lot more information about This Topic. I will bookmarked your blog to visit once again..
Love marriage solution

The blog

Great post guys i surely enjoy every bit, the most important part is that this will help other people.


Payday Loans Lemon-Grove

It was an excellent distribute undeniably. My partner and I cautiously treasured researching in which inside of my own lunch time. Will surely show up and in addition have a look at this amazing site with greater frequency. Nowadays just click the following Payday Loans Lemon-Grove Many thanks relating to unveiling. Maintain the outstanding execute.

many many thanks for this

many many thanks for this post. I have subscribed to your rss feed for daily updates.

Amal for soon love marriage

I appreciate with your article writing,here its my first visit and i found a great information here. keep it continuous ..
Amal for soon love marriage

Thanks for sharing this great

Thanks for sharing this great post. Have a look at our's blog.
how to get rid of pimples r how to get rid of pimples fast r how to get rid of pimples overnight

Husband Wife Problem Solution

Excellent post.Thanks for sharing this message.Really,Your blog is not only instructive but useful too.Husband Wife Problem Solution


Interesting article share and this blog is impresses more people to reading that blog.
Hypnotism Specialist

Good this is important

A great golf course and hopefully useful
by :

Love Marriage Problem Solution Specialist

Really seeking forward to study a lot more. Genuinely Cool. Thanks a good deal for sharing with us!
Love Marriage Problem Solution Specialist

Thanks Mr. Mortenson

You have shared very useful information here. We appreciate your work

Kik Hack tool

Muslim Vashikaran Solution

Great Post !! Very interesting topic will bookmark your site to check if you write more about in the future.
Muslim Vashikaran Solution

web design design

Your post was very nicely written. I’ll be back in the future for sure, web design design

How to get love back by vashikaran online

Very efficiently written information. It will be valuable to everyone who uses it, including myself. Thanks a lot!!
How to get love back by vashikaran online


Great work thanks for sharing it.
bangali baba ji
bangali baba ji in uk,usa

good comment

nice comment and my reply participate permission yes
Jaket Kulit

'-- nice website i will come

'-- nice website i will come back here. Futebol Ao Vivo

great eric

information you have provided here is great, thanks for sharing this quality article.

get idea to hack whatsapp account online

Rashedul Azad

What an wonderful golf course.... just awesome,,,, M777 M777 M777

Easily, the article is

Easily, the article is actually the best topic on this registry related issue. I fit in with your conclusions and will eagerly look forward to your next updates. Just saying thanks will not just be sufficient, for the fantasti c lucidity in your writing. I will instantly grab your rss feed to stay informed of any updates.
Accountants London

Mmm.. good to be here in your

Mmm.. good to be here in your article or post, whatever, I think I should also work hard for my own website like I see some good and updated working in your site.
Accountants Lingfield

Really impressed! Everything

Really impressed! Everything is very open and very clear clarification of issues. It contains truly facts. Your website is very valuable. Thanks for sharing. It's late finding this act. At least, it's a thing to be familiar with that there are such events exist. I agree with your Blog and I will be back to inspect it more in the future so please keep up your act.
Accountants Lingfield

Nice article

Nice article, thanks for the information. It's very complete information. I will bookmark for next reference.

Black Magic Vashikaran Love Spell

packers and movers in bangalore

This is really good post here. Thanks for taking the time to post such valuable information, thanks so much for that great article. packers and movers bangalore packers and movers bangalore marathahalli packers and movers marathahalli packers and movers hsr layout packers and movers btm layout

packers and movers in bangalore

Very informative post! There is a lot of information here that can help any business get started with a successful social networking campaign. packers and movers bangalore packers and movers bangalore marathahalli packers and movers marathahalli

Great blog

Great blog amazing information shared thanks admin.

snapchat tricks and secrets

keep us informed

Please keep us informed like this. Thanks :)

A , B , C
, D , E, F , G , K , L, M , N , O , P , R ,

Being Chinmay

Great !I've been searching google for several hours looking for relevant info on this, they definitely need to position your site on the first page!

No Addiction Powder | Aire Bra |Slim 24 Pro | Hair Building Fiber |Dhanlaxmi Yantra |Slim 24 Pro





Hello broda. Hell Yeah your

Hello broda. Hell Yeah your blog is really awesome and loved it. Also have a look on my blog and comment on this and tell how u liked it.
Independence Day Wallpapers 2015 & Happy Independence Day SMS& Independence Day 2015 Speech
So go through these blogs and provide me the feedback on it.





facetime para android
En esta línea, nos hemos muestreado para usted dos de los mejores siempre aplicaciones con respetan a las videollamadas, Skype de Microsoft y Facetime de Apple, que pueden ser descargados e instalados directamente desde la App Store.
facetime para pc

looks great

this is commendable, how they are taking responsibility to maintain the course and seems that cost is really the greatest motivator.
best whatsapp status

That looks really nice and I

That looks really nice and I appreciate the update here. I do like to discuss thesecheap accountants in london who work with small business clients and tax and other accounting matters.


Spellen Hack Een gedevalueerde nieuwe munt zou van weinig hulp aan de Grieken omdat ze alleen een kleine exportsector hebben. Invoer onbetaalbaar zou worden, zou de bevolking neerdalen verder in de armoede, ondernemingen failliet zou gaan, inflatie zou kunnen spiraal uit de hand. Dit alles zou rampzalig zijn voor een land dat heeft gezien een 25 procent daling in de economische output sinds 2007.
Spellen Cheats

Happy Mothers Day HD Images wallpapers 2016

Happy Mothers Day HD Images Happy Mothers day 2016 Wallpapers Mothers day 2016 saying Happy Mothers day 2016 Gifts Ideas Happy Mothers day Poems 2016 Happy Mothers Day Cards 2016 Happy Mothers Day Pictures Happy Mothers day Photos 2016 Download


I recently found many useful information in your website especially this blog page. Among the lots of comments on your articles. Thanks for sharing.
Bajrangi Bhaijaan Box Office Collection,
Box Office Collection of Bajrangi Bhaijaan,

snapchat hack

amazing blog thanks for sharing, Hats off admin.
check this