Sustainable Community Success Stories – part 2

Photo by IMCBerea College
 via Flickr
Alison Winston
Written by Alison Winston

Rouge Education Project Audubon International and Friends of the Rouge, Southeast Michigan

Audubon International and Friends of the Rouge formed a partnership in 2004 to promote watershed protection and environmental education for youth in southeast Michigan’s Rouge River watershed.  Like many rivers throughout the country, the Rouge is rebounding from pollution, yet at the same time faces new pressures from urbanization and pollution.  The partnership will link landowners that participate in Audubon International’s programs with students that participate in the Friends of the Rouge Education Project to provide additional sites for water quality testing and environmental education.  Students in the REP will conduct water quality tests and macroinvertebrate surveys on ACSP properties and share their data with program members.  Such collaboration will enable students to practice applied science and see how their research can lead to tangible improvements in water quality and the overall health of the Rouge River watershed.  One school that’s already involved is Salem Elementary School, a Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary.

Water Quality Monitoring Eagle Valley Golf Course Environmental Group, Vail, CO

A group of thirteen golf course superintendents in Vail, CO, banded together in 1997 to form the Eagle Valley Golf Course Environmental Group.  The group has developed an innovative water quality testing program that is helping to ensure good water quality in this environmentally-sensitive, high mountain valley.  The Environmental Group monitors nutrient changes in the stream waters on area courses each year to determine any golf course impacts and provide a feedback loop to superintendents about the effectiveness of their best management practices.  The project is the collaborative effort of area superintendents, aided and supported by Colorado State University’s Cooperative Extension Office; Continental Analytical Services of Salina, Kansas; Eagle Valley High School; and Audubon International.  The project presents a model for future collaborative programs nationwide.

Schuylkill Watershed Education Audubon International and the Philadelphia Water Department, PA

The Schuylkill River supplies drinking water to 1.5 million people in the City of Philadelphia and surrounding suburbs.  Charged with its protection, the Philadelphia Water Department employs innovative solutions to preserve and protect local waterways and watersheds, including promotion of voluntary environmental stewardship as a means to protect drinking water quality.  As part of this effort, it has partnered with Audubon International to present a series of seminars to golf courses located in the Schuylkill watershed.  The full day seminars include half-day presentations and a tour of Audubon certified golf courses. Ace Golf Club, a Silver Signature project in Lafayette Hill, hosted the event in 2004.  Skippack Golf Course, a Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary, hosted the 2003 presentation.  In 2005, Audubon International plans to expand its work in the Schuylkill watershed by working in continued partnership with the Philadelphia Water Department, as well as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection to involve schools and youth in watershed-wide environmental stewardship and education.

Water Conservation in Southwest Florida’s Big Cypress Watershed Pelican Marsh Golf Club, Naples, FL

Water is a shrinking resource in Southwest Florida, where population growth in Naples alone grew by 65% from 1990 to 2000.  Since 2002, David Smith, Superintendent of Pelican Marsh Golf Club in Naples, has been doing his part to conserve water used for golf course irrigation.  Smith set a goal of reducing use by 10% and is employing a variety of measures to achieve it, including maintaining electrical rain sensors, reducing watering times and frequency, maintaining proper spray patterns on irrigation heads, and closely monitoring water use.  As a result, Pelican Marsh saved 14 million gallons of water during 2003, compared with 2002.  The course has been a Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary since 2001, and is one of 72 ACSP and Audubon Signature Program members located in the Big Cypress Watershed .

Oak Riparian Restoration, Coyote Creek Los Logos Golf Course, San Jose, CA

Alan Andreasen, CGCS, and Kathy Lyons, of the Biotic Resources Group, show off a sign that informs people about several oak riparian woodlands that have been planted along Coyote Creek at Los Logos Golf Course in San Jose, CA.  Acorns of valley oak (Quercus lobata), and coast live oak (Quercus agrifolia), as well as plants of Mexican elderberry (Sambucus mexicana), box elder (Acer negundo), Pacific blackberry (Rubus ursinus), and coyote brush (Baccharis pilularis) were planted in 2002 and 2003.  The trees and shrubs within the oak riparian woodland will create, over time, a dense canopy that will provide valuable wildlife habitat.  The restoration project is one of the many environmental activities that the course has undertaken in cooperation with local organizations that serve on its Resource Advisory Group.  Efforts such as this exemplify the best of what can be achieved when ACSP members collaborate with local individuals and organizations.

Pond Improvement Project North Shore Country Club, Glenview, IL

Golf courses can improve their water features by incorporating various components of natural wetlands and ponds.  North Shore Country Club, a Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary, undertook a major pond improvement project in 2002 to stabilize shorelines and prevent siltation, as well as enhance the beauty and wildlife value of its pond.  The pond banks were heavily fortified with yardwaste compost, a soil amendment used to help stabilize the soil, grow shoreline plants, and absorb nutrients or other potential pollutants.  Erosion control fabric was employed to buffer wave action and water level fluctuation.  Areas in play were seeded with Red Top grass to serve as a shoreline buffer.  The course also created small bays with rock-outcroppings and “safety shelves” to serve as spawning beds for fish (photo).  The enhancements improved both aesthetics and water quality.

Streambank Stabilization Olympia Fields Country Club in Olympia Fields, IL

About 1½ miles of Butterfield Creek flows through Olympia Fields Country Club and is an important feature on many of the holes.  Over the years, the stream channel grew wider and deeper as a result of upstream construction, which increased the rate of runoff and flow in the creek.  On the 13th hole of the North Course the channel started to cut into an elevated tee bank, causing soil to slump into the creek and threatening the playing surface.  The streambank stabilization project controlled the erosion and stabilized 230-feet of the bank, using native prairie and wetland vegetation, rather than structures (e.g., concrete, pilings, rip rap).  Choosing vegetation improved the wildlife, aesthetic, and functional value of the creek.

About the author

Alison Winston

Alison Winston

Alison is passionate about conservation and the environment. With a Master’s degree in Environmental Geology, Alison has written dozen's of papers focusing on hydrogeology, water quality, and hydrogeochemistry.

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