Eastmoreland Golf Course achieved Audubon Certification this year under the guidance of Superintendent Kathy Hauff with some help from Eastmoreland 100 volunteers. We were very proud to have helped Kathy in her efforts to document all the wildlife and community volunteer projects. Volunteers participated with three key projects (1) Salmon counting along Chrystal Spring (2) Building a butterfly garden to enhance and educate along the 10th tee and (3) Bird nest cleaning with Audon member Jan Knott and (4) golfers documenting wildlife sightings. (links and articles on each project are coming soon)
So yes, we golfers love and appreciate the wildlife as we trek the 5.8 miles 18-hole layout and volunteer to help preserve the open space for future generations.
We who play the game also have a responsibility to help ensure that golf remains compatible with nature and that our courses are well-managed and in harmony with the environment. USGA "Environmental Principles for Golf Courses in the United"
This may come as surprise to those look at a golf course's manicured fairways and greens and think "Golf courses can't be good for the environment!"
Well it's time to think again, because golf courses (especially municipal courses) are essential for long term planning for environmentally sound open space and a key sanctuary and habitat for wildlife.
First, Golf courses are critical for water reclamation. According to the GCSAA "Healthy turfgrass is an excellent filter that traps pollutants, preventing them from reaching groundwater supplies. And golf courses can actually serve as catch basins for residential and industrial runoff. In fact, golf courses are effective disposal sites for effluent wastewater." Many courses, like those in the Portland Parks system use recycled water, and are important assets to maintaining environmental requirements for managing a city's waste.
Second, Golf courses offer key sanctuaries and habitat for wildlife for indigenous plants and wildlife within City limits. Golf courses are perfectly suited for terrain alongside rivers, lakes and oceans that prone to flooding. Without golf courses, these areas over time become targets for industrial and residential development that historically resulted in the destruction of the habitat.
Third, Golf courses offer citizens to appreciate and preserve the natural habitat. Many golfers love the game for the physical skill and mental creativity and emotional patience required to excel. We also love being outside, listening to the birds, seeing animals up close. When I share videos of friends swinging clubs, non-golfers all seem to remark on the sounds of the many birds and insects that fill the air. When tee it up on Eastmoreland's 12th tee everyone searches the tops of tall firs across Chrystal Lake for the bald eagles that have been nesting each year, stalking fish and the occasional goose. During peak season, each foursome is contributing $160 to the sustaining the environment we cherish.
Fourth, Golf courses are financially self-sustaining strategy to preserve public open space. Unlike most of the acreage that Portland Parks & Recreation must obtain, only the golf courses have a long history of self-sustaining requirement. During peak season, each foursome is contributing $160 to the sustaining the environment we cherish, as much as $15,000 per day in the summer. The millions of dollars contributed by golf revenue has enabled the program to expand and save more critical habitat. Every other parks property requires tax-payer dollars to fund the entirety of their operations. Not only that, surplus revenue from the golf program has been used to subsidise Arts Program during the 1960's through the 1980's. One substantial donation nearing $1 million to help fund the construction of the Portland Opera.
“Achieving Audubon certification is a lot of work and well worth the effort" - Kathy Hauff
The course was designed in 1917 by Chandler Egan a former national amateur golf champion and leading golf course architect.
Eastmoreland now joins Heron Lakes as the second golf course in Portland's golf program to become Audubon certified. Superintendent Jessie Goodling, who mentored Kathy during start of her career with Portland Parks, achieved the Audubon certification earlier this Spring for Heron Lakes. Heron Lakes has a special distinction of being built directly in a flood plain, adjacent to the Columbia, on the land that the great WWII city of Vanport.
Jessie led the way as the first course in the Portland metro to add Bentgrass to the greens system, thereby reducing the water and chemical usage. Kathy has since followed in his footsteps and helping add the new grass system to Eastmoreland to supplement the natural poa greens, native to the Northwest. Per the Portland Tribune "Unlike poa, bentgrass does not need to be cut every day with a fleet of gas-powered motors. Goodling estimates he saves about a gallon of gas a day, while reducing exhaust from the mowers."
"Heron Lakes Golf Course has shown a strong commitment to its environmental program. They are to be commended for preserving the natural heritage of the area by protecting the local watershed and providing a sanctuary for wildlife on the golf course property," said Tara Donadio, Director of Cooperative Sanctuary Programs at Audubon International.
The Portland Golf program is a leader in maintaining golf courses with a focus on natural habitats, local grasses with the goal to minimize use of chemicals. Golf courses all across America are all moving towards more environmentally sound policies as a result of the success of courses like Eastmoreland, Heron Lakes and Rose City. With a budget that is a fraction of the private courses like Waverley, Columbia Edgewater and Riverside, the Portland Parks maintenance crew provides a championship golf experience that rivals the private courses. Their efforts are even more worthy of praise when you consider they support more than triple the amount of rounds played in comparison to the private clubs.
“It’s difficult individually to change people’s perceptions,” Jessie Goodling says. “[Most] superintendents don’t want to think outside the box.”
Here's to the great work of Jessie, Kathy and their respective crews of the Portland Golf program, who are pioneers in golf maintenance with the goal of achieving environmental and financial sustainability. The entire community of golfers and future golfers should be grateful for their leadership as stewards of the land in harmony with Portland's community values.