Golf courses

Florida State Audubon Signature Golf Courses

Audubon World
Written by Audubon World

The Aerie T

he Aerie at TwinEagles  is a  Gary Player-designed, 18-hole golf  course located in northern Collier County, near Naples,  Florida.  The regionally significant Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary is situated to the north of the golf course property.  The property was formerly used for sod production and as cattle rangeland.   The project includes residential and golf community on 640-acres of low lying sandy soils with a large cypress forest preserve that extends along the entire western edge of the property with large isolated patches on the eastern side. Isolated green islands contain live oak, cabbage palm,  and wet prairie.  Audubon International assisted The Aerie development in designing the project  around the existing site elements with minimal environmental impact. Out of 295-acres, only 80-acres are irrigated.  Non-native plants such as melaleuca and Brazilian pepper, were removed allowing the restoration of 30-acres of wetlands.  Nearly fourteen acres or 15% of the golf course had native plants added.  Fairways are planted with paspalum which requires as much as 50% less water and maintenance than Bermuda grass, thus saving resources and labor.  The course was certified as a Silver Signature Sanctuary on March 21, 2007 and is the companion course to The Talon, a Certified Bronze Signature Sanctuary. For more information about TwinEagles, visit their website at

Bonita Bay Club East

Bonita Bay Club East is home to The Cypress and The Sabal golf courses in northern Collier County, near Naples, Florida.  Habitats throughout the site, such as pine flatwoods, live oak, and cabbage palm hammocks, are representative of southwest Florida.  Native vegetation includes slash pine, southern bald cypress, and saw palmetto.  The 1,440-acre property includes a 900-acre cypress preserve that is the largest stand of bald cypress left in its natural state in Florida.  There is no housing at Bonita Bay East, where 98% of the landscape material used is native vegetation.  Osceola wild turkey and wild pigs are seen regularly.  For more information on Bonita Bay Club East, visit its web site at

The Club at Mediterra

Mediterra, a 1,697 acre community being developed in Southwest Florida by the Bonita Bay Group located in both Lee and Collier counties, Florida, comprises primarily pine flatwoods.  Site enhancement of the pine flatwoods ecosystems included returning land to its natural state through reforestation, creating a comprehensive plan to preserve 400 acres of wetlands and enhancing habitat for native wildlife, including a preserve for the 33 gopher tortoises found on site.  Previously a barren cattle grazing pasture, the southeast corner of the property has been reforested with several species of trees, shrubs, and groundcover.  The overall Mediterra project includes 22 individual conservation areas totaling 350 acres.  As a whole, the conservation areas contain 284 acres (73%) of preserved wetlands, seven acres of created wetlands, and 59 acres of preserved uplands.  In addition, 152 acres of lakes were created to serve as water quality treatment areas for stormwater runoff.  Four acres of an existing willow head and cattle watering hole have been preserved and enhanced through the planting of additional willows, native leather fern, pickerel weed, bacopa groundcover, and native aquatic plants.  Audubon International worked with the golf course architect Tom Fazio and staff to concentrate the golf course and residential development in the areas dominated by exotic/invasive plants and agriculture, while preserving the wetlands and native areas as conservation areas. In addition to mammals and birds (including pileated, hairy, and downy woodpeckers and pine warblers) attracted to the property, amphibians found in the pine flatwoods habitat include native frog species, such as the green, pine woods, barking, and squirrel treefrogs, and the Florida box turtle (Terrapene c. bauri).  The Club at Mediterra is the first private 36-hole golf course to be certified  as a Silver Signature Sanctuary.  Learn more about Bonita Bay Group properties by visiting its webpage at

Collier’s Reserve

The Cocohatchee River, one of Collier County’s most scenic natural waterways, provides the backdrop for Collier’s Reserve, a 448-acre gated community located in the Southwest Florida sandhill community near Naples.  This private residential golf course community is nestled in the scrubby habitat, which supports substantial populations of gopher tortoises and songbirds such as the rufous-sided towhee, pine warbler, gray kingbird, red-eyed vireo, and mangrove cuckoo.  Bald eagles perch in large snags along the golf course, and osprey nest successfully where golf holes are interspersed with wildlife corridors.  Collier’s Reserve was the first Certified Audubon Signature  Sanctuary in the world and received the first Florida Governor’s Award for Sustainable Development. To learn more about Collier’s Reserve, go to its web site at

Eagle Ridge Golf Club

Registered in the Silver Signature Program in 2000, Eagle Ridge Golf Club is managed by Club Corp and located east of Highway 27, north of The Villages near the town of Summerfield in Marion County, Florida.  Formerly improved pasture dominated by bahia and bermuda grass, the topography graduates from level to rolling hills in central Florida’s “buried karst” (limestone) terrain.  Arguably the most impressive natural features on the site are the majestic 200 year-old live oaks which have survived in groups called “hammocks.”  One hammock is located on the Masters nine course, and includes an understory of beautyberry, winged sumac, and saw palmetto.  The other hammock is located adjacent to a preserve on the Memorial nine where natural communities of long-leaf pine and turkey oak are found.

Because both Memorial and Masters golf courses are surrounded by residential community, strings of “stepping stone habitats” were created with native vegetation linked by trees and shrubs that also provide access to water.  The preservation and management of the oak communities enhances habitat that can be used by observed species, such as the southeastern American kestrel, as well as the gopher tortoise and Sherman fox squirrel, both Florida Species of Special Concern.

The only intact habitat patch for the Memorial golf course is the southeastern American kestrel preserve area on the northern limits of the 9 holes adjacent to Hole 7.  A red-tailed hawk nests in an oak tree along the fairway on hole #6 of the Memorial Course.  Seen frequently along the edges of the hammocks are brown thrasher, loggerhead shrike, and flicker, but most impressive are the number of water bird species at the lake edges, including snowy egret, great blue heron, white ibis, anhinga, and great egret.  Lake Weir is the largest surface water body in the vicinity of the site with Little Lake Weir, an isolated embayment of Lake Weir, located about 1200 feet southwest of the project site.  As with most all water supplies in central Florida, the Floridan aquifer is the primary groundwater system in the vicinity.

To learn more about the Terry Doss-designed Masters and Memorial golf courses at Eagle Ridge Golf Club, visit its website at

Indian River Club

Indian River Club, a 300-acre private gated golf community in Vero Beach, Florida, routed its 18-hole golf course through four distinctly different landscapes — mature pine forest, oak hammock, Carolina-style savannah, and ancient elevated coast sand dune.  A 13-acre preserve of scrub oak and hickory was set aside for the Florida scrub jay, a federally and state listed threatened species, and is maintained through a long-term prescribed burn and mechanical management program.  On 12 acres of created wetlands, littoral shelves planted with aquatic grasses, eleoachris, spike rush, and juncus provide food and nesting cover for fish and waterfowl and act as a filtering buffer for storm water runoff.  The east end of the site is one of the last undeveloped sections of the Atlantic Coastal Ridge, which hosts one of the largest stands of sand pine in the county.  The west section of the property contains the largest stand of longleaf pines in the developed corridor of Indian River County.  Indian River was the third property in the world to become a Certified Signature Sanctuary.  For more details, check out Indian River Club at

Legacy Club at Alaqua Lakes

Designed by Tom Fazio and situated just north of Orlando, in the northwest of Central Florida’s Seminole County, the 18-hole Legacy Club at Alaqua Lakes is located in the Southern Coastal Plain natural region of the United States.  After being drained nearly twenty years ago by a series of canals to provide grazing land for cattle, 158 acres of wetlands now have been restored to functioning ecosystems.  Through preservation of canopy trees, xeriscaping with native plants, and leaving miles of woodland edge, the property provides excellent habitat and wildlife corridors.  Only 130 acres of the land are used for the golf course, with 30 acres of corridors between golf and residential lots, 60 acres of lakes, and an additional 50 acres left as open space.  The regionally significant natural Wekiva River Wildlife Corridor is located immediately along the west side of the site.  The largest wetland tract of 78 acres consists of mixed hardwood wetland forest dominated by loblolly bay, red maple, sweetbay, and black gum.  Wildlife such as wild turkey, deer, fox, and Florida black bear are seen frequently.  Learn more about The Legacy Club at Alaqua Lakes at

Old Collier Golf Club

The Old Collier Club is an 18-hole golf course located in Naples, Collier County, Florida.  The site covers 500 acres of mixed uplands and wetlands adjacent to the Cocohatchee River, an “Outstanding Florida Waterway.”  Roughly half of the property comprises wetland mangrove communities associated with the river, being preserved as the most significant natural feature of the site.  The golf course is located on the portion of the property that is primarily pine flatwoods, with brackish-water and freshwater wetlands occurring in patches.  Of the 267 total acres, 53 acres of mangrove and wetland habitat were set aside and remain untouched.  The Tom Fazio-designed golf course is superimposed on the remaining 214 acres of primarily upland habitat.  The ‘golf-only’ facility includes 77 acres of irrigated turf; 28 acres of surface water distributed over 11 man-made lakes and 109 acres of interconnected native habitat.  With a focus on water conservation in Southwest Florida, Seashore Paspalum turf grass was selected because of its deep-rooted character and tolerance to water high in dissolved solids including high levels of salt.  Irrigation of the golf course is from two sources of little use to the general population: the tidal Cocohatchee River and the high sulfur and bicarbonate aquifer.  The Old Collier Club is the first Audubon International Certified Gold Signature Sanctuary in the world. To learn about the Old Collier Golf Club, try its website at

Old Corkscrew Golf Club

Old Corkscrew is situated on a 275-acre site located seven miles east of I-75 on Corkscrew Road in Estero, Lee County, Florida. It includes a public, 18-hole Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course with a driving range, clubhouse, and a state-of-the-art maintenance facility.  There is no residential component to this project.  At the completion of this project, 175-acres of existing wetlands, creation and preservation of 29.3-acres of lakes and 15,000 linear feet of shoreline was created, and ten acres of invasive plants were removed.  Approximately 300,000 native plants, were used in landscaping and re-vegetation of disturbed areas, 337 of which were bromeliads transplanted into the conservation areas.  Native plants species in non-golf areas and particularly on tee-surrounds include muhly grass, spartina patens, dune sunflower and wire grass leaving only 83 acres of turfgrass to be irrigated.  Seventeen acres of preserved conservation areas were required, but over 40-acres were actually preserved.

Scientists from Synecological Analysts will transplant Tillandsia pruinosa (a tiny airplant), from two miles away, in an effort to redistribute the species outside of Collier County.  Special species already found on the property include gopher tortoises and the big cypress fox squirrel. To learn more about Old Corkscrew Golf Club, visit their website at

PGA Golf Club

Situated on 430 acres of Florida slash pines punctuated by small stands of wax myrtles, oaks and sabal palms, the three 18-hole golf courses of the PGA Golf Club lie on land once renowned for cattle ranching.  The South Course is more typical of this Florida vegetation and design.  The North Course plays through an upland area of pine flatwoods and rolling terrain, which gives it a North Carolina feel.  The Dye Course weaves through wetlands and native landscape on coquina-base cart paths.  A 25-acre preserve was created for the red-cockaded woodpecker, a federally listed endangered bird, and the gopher tortoise, listed by the State of Florida as a “species of special concern.”  The PGA Golf Club conserves 100 million gallons of Florida’s water supply by collecting runoff in 80 acres of ponds created for water storage and wildlife habitat.  The PGA Golf Club is the first Professional Golf Association owned and operated public golf club in the country.  The Tom Fazio-designed North and South courses became certified on September 17, 1996 and the Pete Dye-designed Dye Course became certified in 2003.  Learn more about these Certified Audubon Signature Sanctuaries by visiting

St. James Bay Golf Course

Located in Carrabelle, Franklin County, Florida, St. James Bay Golf Course property was undeveloped except for a centrally situated wilderness treatment facility for troubled youth (Anneewakee School).  Situated within the Southern Coastal Plain Natural Region of the U.S., the course winds through a mosaic of vegetated communities consisting of flatwoods, planted pines, forested wetlands and marshlands.   Of the 370 acres of  property, Audubon International provided design and management input on 237 acres, of which there are 122 acres of golf course, 95 acres of wetlands (in the northern and southern portions of the property), and 20 acres of uplands. Three large preserves serve as the main wildlife habitats on the property.  One of the most significant natural features in the vicinity of the property is Apalachicola Bay, an Outstanding Florida Water, Aquatic Preserve, Surface Water Improvement and Management (SWIM) Priority Water Body, International Bioshpere Reserve, and the largest Estuarine Sanctuary in the U.S.  The Florida black bear (Ursus americanus floridanus), a state listed threatened species,  has been frequently observed on site and continues to use on-site lakes for swimming and wetlands vegetation for resting. The most predominant wetland plant community found on the project is the 77-acre titi swamp featuring two species of titi called swamp cyrilla and black titi.  Revegetation efforts included the reintroduction of  the Chalk Maple (Acer saccharum),  a local common species in the Apalachicola area,  as well as  Atlantic white cedar  (Chamaecyparis thyoides).  Godfrey’s Blazing Star ( Liatris provincialis),  a very rare flowering plant in Franklin County and found on site,  will continue to be relocated in an effort to propagate a larger population of the species. The large contiguous forest wetlands and associated buffers of this project ultimately connect to the Gulf of Mexico and are very important in maintaining and improving water quality of the gulf.   St James Bay Golf Course, designed by Robert Walker,  opened on September 20,  2003 and was certified as a Silver Signature Sanctuary on August  25, 2004.  To learn more about St. James Bay, access their web site at

Shark’s Tooth Golf Club

Opening for play on March 9, 2002,  Shark’s Tooth Golf Club is a  Greg Norman-designed 18-hole private golf course located within the 734 acre Planned Unit Development and gated community called Wild Heron west of Panama City Beach near the Bay County/ Walton County line in Florida.  The southern boundary of the property sets on Lake Powell, a 737-acre Outstanding Florida Water recognized as the largest coastal dune lake in the state of Florida.  When the dunes are breached by either the lake or the Gulf of Mexico,  Lake Powell becomes part fresh water and brackish water providing a unique environment for a distinct aquatic ecosystem with  fish species such as speckled trout, redfish, and flounder.  The Wild Heron development  follows 3.5 miles of shoreline along Lake Powell and  features 206 acres designated as preserved wetlands and uplands,  and  170 acres designated for the golf course corridor.  Prominent vegetation includes live oak, sand pine, loblolly pine, and palmetto.  The project was designated as a Certified Silver Signature Sanctuary on October 24, 2002.  To learn more about Shark’s Tooth Golf Club, go to

The Talon at TwinEagles

The Jack Nicklaus-designed Talon golf course at TwinEagles  is located within a 1,114-acre site located east of I-75 in Naples, Collier County, Florida, near the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, the largest forest of ancient bald cypress in North America.  The property consists primarily of ditched open pastureland, with isolated naturally vegetated islands of live oaks, cabbage palms, and wet prairie.  Used as rangeland for cattle and sod production historically, the property boasts 240 acres of forested cypress wetlands. To increase biodiversity, twelve lakes totaling 64 acres were created and provide habitat for wading birds, such as herons, egrets, and ibis, and feeding opportunities for cormorant, anhinga, and blue-winged teal.  TwinEagles is located adjacent to Bonita Bay Club East, another certified Audubon Signature Cooperative Sanctuary.  Learn more about TwinEagles at:

WCI Evergrene

Demonstrating its environmental commitment and incorporating green building principles into traditional home building, Evergrene is a 364-acre residential development located in Palm Beach Gardens, on the east coast of Florida, four miles inland from the Atlantic Ocean.  It features WCI Communities, Inc.’s newest concept green house–the “Geni G,” short for Generation Green.  The Geni G house incorporates the latest energy-efficient building technologies, use of recycled materials, and features that promote indoor air quality.  It has bamboo flooring, a rain collection/storage system for irrigation, and paints and finishes that emit little or no fumes.  The $75,000 in green building options offered to home buyers in the community include carpet made from recycled soda bottles, touchless faucets that encourage water conservation, and fiber-optic cable lighting systems that allow one light bulb to do the work of 10 to save on energy consumption and costs.  The Geni G received Florida Yards and Neighborhoods certification and the standard home design received “bronze” certification in Florida Power & Light’s Energy Smart Program.  Two-thirds of the property was covered by invasive plants, including Melaleuca and Brazilian Pepper, all of which have been removed.  Evergrene’s grounds include 81 acres of green space and 58 acres of lakes.  Public access and education opportunities are offered in conservation areas, pocket parks and around the lakes and include three miles of walking trails, butterfly/bird gardens, and a fishing pier.  Within the northern wetland and preserve, “critter crossings” were installed underground to allow the uninhibited movement of wildlife across roadways.  In an outstanding native plant conservation process, over 2,200 trees were transplanted from on site to supplement perimeter buffers.  In addition, over 200,000 bare root and containerized native plants were used to re-vegetate areas formerly occupied by invasive species.  Learn more about Evergrene, the first residential community to become a Certified Gold Signature Sanctuary, at

WCI Hammock Bay Golf & Country Club

A trip to Florida is not complete without traveling to the Ten Thousand Islands area south of Marco Island and Naples.  Located southwest of the last exit from I-75 before entering the Big Cypress National Preserve, WCI Communities, Inc.’s (WCI) new Hammock Bay Golf & Country Club now occupies the site of the former Marco Shores Golf Club.  Featuring basically flat topography with small elevation changes throughout and bordered on the south with mangrove preserves and McIlvane Bay, the 237-acre project in southern Collier County lies in a filled and developed island in a matrix of mangrove swamp near the Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve.

The brackish waters of estuarine tidal areas around the southern Florida peninsula favor the dominant mangrove shrub ecological community found in the project’s locale.  In light of the surrounding waters and ecology, Hammock Bay Golf & Country Club is the first project in Florida to use SeaDwarf Seashore Paspalum, which performs well with fresh or brackish irrigation water, on greens, tees and fairways.  The salt-tolerant SeaDwarf also requires 50 percent less water and 75 percent less nitrogen than traditional Bermuda grasses.  In addition, WCI transplanted approximately 800 sabal palms from another of its communities to enhance landscaping.  Golf course plantings are 100 percent native and include seagrape, beach sunflower, railroad wine, sea oats and Spartina grasses.  Only a small number of salt-tolerant plant species comprise the littoral vegetation in the mucky/ brackish lakes, where salinity levels are relatively high, including eel grass, salt marsh cordgrass, and black needle rush.

The Peter Jacobsen/Jim Hardy-designed 18-hole golf course uses both effluent wastewater and salt water for irrigation.  The design added 23 acres of new lakes and wetlands. The majority of the created wetlands are littoral “phytozones,” designed to treat storm water runoff from the golf course, as well as from a portion of the new residential areas.  Because residential drainage can adversely affect wetlands, water bodies, and wildlife, drainage from roofs, patios, driveways, and other hard surfaces is directed to lawn or landscape areas for filtration.  Turfgrasses used within the community are limited to either St. Augustine or Bahiagrass.  A high-rise tower with 113 residences and a neighborhood encompassing 22 buildings of four homes each are the first residential areas to be completed.  Hammock Bay Golf & Country Club was certified as a Gold Signature Sustainable Development on October 27, 2004.  Learn more about Hammock Bay and other certified WCI projects at

WCI Lost Key Golf Club

The Southern Coastal Plain natural region is also home to Lost Key, a 287-acre golf course located within WCI Communities’ Lost Key Golf and Beach Club.  Set in the northern Florida panhandle area near the Intracoastal Waterway, the site’s dominant ecological communities include pine flatwoods, salt marsh, and freshwater wetlands.  In addition to the pre-existing 50 acres of wetlands, newly created wetlands are managed to maximize biological diversity.  The dominant plant community on the property is largely contiguous forest wetland.  Wildlife corridors allow the native bobcat, fox, and deer passage through the property.  Lost Key is the first Audubon International member  to become a Certified Silver Audubon Signature Sanctuary.  For more information about Lost Key Golf Club, see its web site at

WCI Old Palm

Located 2.5-miles from the Arthur B. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge and east of Lake Okeechobee near Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, is the golf community of Old Palm.  A major constraint of this property is an onsite  well field  with 13 potable water wells operated by Seacoast Utilities.  Historically the site was undeveloped but impacted by disturbances such as cattle and horse grazing.  More than 50-acres of the approximately 650-acre community have been set aside as preserve areas, including one at the north end of the community with dedicated tortoise fencing to provide a contiguous wildlife corridor.  Approximately 75% of the landscaped common areas are comprised of native plantings that are drought tolerant and consequently require less water.  Specially engineered phytozones in the community lakes, along with littoral plantings, allow for natural filtration areas.

To meet the green building criteria, Old Palm built energy efficient homes with superior HERS (Home Energy Rate Score) ratings where each home is 20% more energy efficient than national energy efficiency standards and 10% more efficient than Florida code requirements.  The use of Icynene spray foam insulation was the one of the key ingredients in making this happen. This spray foam insulation seals conditioned air inside of the home while acting as a barrier to keep hot air from entering the home through attic vents and access areas. These green practices extend to the championship Raymond Floyd-designed golf course.  Seashore paspalum turfgrass, a state-of-the-art hybrid grass, was installed because it fares better in heat, cold, and shade, as well as varied soil conditions, and can be watered with fresh, brackish, or salt water. For more information, please visit

WCI Pelican Preserve

Pelican Preserve  is a 1,017-acre multi-phase active adult residential community in Lee County, Fl.   The project, developed by WCI Communities, Inc., contemplates 2,400 residential units in the future on what were once agricultural fields.  It features The Club at Pelican Preserve (formerly Solana Golf Club), a Chip Powell-designed 18-hole championship course, as well as other amenities.  Public access and education opportunities focus primarily on the main wetland preserve and include a path and board walk featuring interpretive information within large kiosks.  As part of the approval process for the project, 412 acres in Hendry County were donated to Friends of Endangered Wildlife and restored for Florida panther habitat.  The residential irrigation system has a master control that allows for complete management of water usage and can be used for water conservation.  Residential and common areas also have rain sensors and automatic shutoffs.  This community is the first location to use Audubon International approved landscape mulch made from waste wood and no cypress.  On August 20, 2003, Pelican Preserve became the first golf community in the world to become certified as a Gold Audubon Signature Sustainable Development.  To see more of Pelican Preserve, visit its web site at

WCI Raptor Bay Golf Club

Raptor Bay is an 18 hole Raymond Floyd-designed golf course on 510 acres located in Lee County, Florida and owned by WCI Communities, Inc.  Situated next to Estero Bay, a Marine Aquatic Preserve, a majority of the site consists of vegetated upland areas, along with freshwater and brackish water wetlands.  Halfway Creek, an “Outstanding Florida Waterway,” traverses the eastern portion of the property, where an active bald eagle’s nest and associated buffer zone occupy 52 acres of the site.  There are 125 acres of wetlands and buffers, 22 acres of lakes, with 22 additional acres of  special zones where plants are used specifically to capture, hold and filter golf course runoff.  Forty-two percent of the site contains natural habitat under conservation easement.   Dominant vegetative communities in the more than 200 acres of native vegetation and nature preserve are pine flatwoods, xeric oak, and cypress.  One unique aspect of the course design is the use of native sand and palms incorporated into waste bunkers.  These bunkers are large areas of sand used here  in place of golf course roughs.   Next to Raptor Bay lies another certified Signature Sanctuary, West Bay Club.  Raptor Bay Golf Club is the first resort golf course in the world certified as a Gold Signature Sanctuary.  See more of Raptor Bay Golf Club at

WCI-Tuscany Reserve Golf Club

Interwoven among 60-acres of lakes throughout the 185-acre site near Naples, Florida, Tuscany Reserve Golf Club features an 18-hole private, Greg Norman/Pete Dye-designed golf course with amenities including a clubhouse, maintenance facility, and 9-acre practice range.  Built on abandoned tomato fields, the front 9 holes resemble open and rolling parkland with widely scattered trees.  The back 9 holes and representative of Italy’s rural farm land.  In an effort to conserve water, Sea Dwarf Paspalum turfgrass was used from tee to green.  It requires up to 50% less water for irrigation and 75% less nitrogen for fertilization than traditionally used Bermuda grass.  In addition, it may be irrigated with nearly any quality water from potable and effluent to seawater.   A thirty acre restoration area near holes 12 and 13 showcases healthy native plant species. Three existing wetland/upland areas were preserved as well. For more information about Watermark Communities, Inc. and Tuscany Reserve Golf Club, visit their website at

WCI Venetian Golf  and River Club

Venetian Golf and River Club, located in Venice, Sarasota County, Florida is an 1100-acre property situated on land historically used for pasture, which includes small wetland pockets and very few trees.  A riparian corridor follows along the Myakka River, a designated Florida Wild and Scenic River.  The 18-hole Chip Powell-designed golf course was created on  159 acres, or 15% of the site.   Of the 1100 acres, 663 are devoted to golf course, lakes, wetlands, conservation areas, and a planned 70-acre nature park.  In addition to a 75-acre Myakka River buffer, 108 acres of wetlands will be preserved (10% of the site).  The Myakka River buffer averages 500 feet and, in total, the open spaces account for approximately 500 acres, or 50% of the site.  Preserving the river corridor that is currently populated with natural plant and wildlife communities is among the key sustainable resource management strategies for the property.  One goal is to provide for non-intrusive use of these natural ecosystems for passive recreation and wildlife viewing by  integrating the  native plantings and wildlife habitat into the human-centered part of the project.  In addition, each of eight completed homes plus four model homes have been certified through the Florida Green Building Coalition as Florida Green Homes.  Venetian Golf and River Club was certified as a Gold Audubon Signature Sustainable Development on March 31, 2004.

Villages at Marion

The Villages of Marion, designated as a Florida Quality Development and located near Lady Lake in Marion County, Florida, have partnered with Audubon International to provide a proactive and innovative, environmentally sensitive approach to golf course development.  The Villages focus on a traditional downtown, diverse services and facilities, community gathering places, pedestrian and alternative transportation paths, internal community recreation, and a wide array of housing types and include a comprehensive transportation system.  Golf carts are the primary non-auto means of transportation of the Villages.  The major form of recreation available free of charge to residents are the golf courses spread throughout the community.  The 1,723 acre site formerly comprised 60% pastureland devoted to cattle grazing, 30% peanut and alternate crop farming, and 10% oak canopy.  The site contained three isolated wetlands.  There are three state protected animal species, including the threatened southeastern American kestrel and Sherman’s fox squirrel and gopher tortoise, the latter two species of special concern.  Approximately 18 acres are placed in perpetual conservation easement with another 105.5 acres of golf course roughs, power easements, and rights-of-way covered in a foraging management plan.  The gopher tortoises were relocated to an 18 acres conservation area.  The Signature Program standards were applied to 63 holes of golf.  Of the total, 36 holes were certified as an Audubon Silver Signature Cooperative Sanctuary on May 7, 2002: the Ezell-Clifton-Ezell-designed Ashley Meadow and Errin Glen courses of The Nancy Lopez Legacy Club; and the Walnut Grove and Briarwood Executive Nines.  For more information on the Villages of Marion’s sustainable approach to developing golf courses with Audubon International, go to

West Bay Club

Bisected by a high, sandy ridge, the 868-acre site for West Bay Club in Lee County, Florida, is located along the lower reaches of the Estero River at its confluence with Halfway Creek, two miles from the mouth of the river at Estero Bay.  Halfway is a Florida Outstanding Waterway. Twelve lakes were created and 150 acres of wetlands were enhanced at West Bay, leaving 76% of the site in open space.  The oak scrub and oak hammock, pine flatwoods, and rosemary scrub vegetative communities support large populations of gopher tortoise, amphibians such as the Florida gopher frog, and birds such as the cormorant.  The property is used as the site of release by wildlife organizations for rehabilitated animals such as otters, owls, and small mammals.  Visit West Bay’s web site at

World Wide Sportsman

World Wide Sportsman is a retail facility, travel agency, and marina located in Islamorada, Florida, on the Upper Matecumbe Key.  This property boasts 400 feet of shoreline along the Florida Bay, which is one of the world’s most important feeding grounds for saltwater fish species.  Through the vision of John L. Morris, head of Bass Pro Shops, World Wide Sportsman has been transformed from a previously disturbed and intensely used site into a viable part of the community and an ecologically restored asset to the Florida Keys.  For more detailed description of the property’s restoration and increased biological diversity, visit its web site at  World Wide Sportsman became the first non-golf Certified Audubon Signature  Sanctuary on September 22, 1998.

About the author

Audubon World

Audubon World

Leave a Comment