The Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf is an award-winning education and certification program that helps golf courses protect their environments and preserve the natural heritage of the game of golf.
The certification process supports an important sustainable environmental responsibility by enhancing the natural areas and wildlife habitats, improving efficiency, and minimizing the potentially harmful impacts of golf course operations.
NCC had committed to achieving the Audubon International Standard Environmental Management Practices for certification by 2023, in honour of Niakwa Country Club’s 100th Birthday. Member awareness and engagement were needed on projects and initiatives required to fulfill 6 key environmental categories for certification.
Golf Course Superintendent Shawn Major leads the environmental management and is directed by John McMorris and Shane Bell, Assistant Golf Course Superintendents, and Horticulturalist Daphne Stapley.
A Resource Advisory Group providing articulation and member engagement is Karen Yamada, collaborating with Rob Sproule, Al Kowaluk, Dave McMillan, and Cory Frank.
Click to view: A Guide to Environmental Stewardship of the Golf Course
NCC CERTIFICATION STATUS REPORT
1. Environmental Planning – Approved and Certified
An initial site assessment of the Niakwa Country Club course initiated an environmental management plan with goals and priorities for addressing the key certification categories. Staff training, project teams and communication strategies were established.
2. Wildlife and Habitat Management – Approved and Certified
Proper wildlife management. Projects: naturalization of 50% of the minimally-used property; allowing dead trees to safely stand; installing bat and bluebird boxes; Identify core habitats on the property; create and maintain an inventory of at least birds and mammals; naturalize 50% of out-of-play shorelines; inoculate trees for Dutch Elm disease.
3. Chemical Use Reduction and Safety – Approved and Certified
NCC’s comprehensive Integrated Pest Management and Best Management Program was commended as it is one of the most important ways to ensure a healthy environment for people and wildlife. Projects: Continued emphasis on cultural practices such as divot repair along with a scouting program for pests is encouraged.
4. Water Conservation – Approved and Certified
One of the greatest concerns facing golf courses, NCC’s planned projects to ensure water conservation in addition to regular monitoring of the irrigation system. Projects: Completed an irrigation audit; irrigation system replacement as greens are rebuilt; invest in a weather station switching turf grass on areas that would be more appropriate.
5. Water Quality Management – Approved and Certified
Many best management practices are noted near all water bodies. Baseline data and ongoing testing are recommended. Projects: Increase the buffer for environmentally sensitive management techniques around water bodies from 10 feet to 25 feet; send out water quality testing from Seine River and NCC pond at the beginning and end of every season.
6. Outreach and Education – Approved and Certified
The sustainability of conservation and wildlife management initiatives depends on the awareness and engagement of community members including staff, members, and the community at large in the shared stewardship role. Projects: Formed a Resource Advisory Group; connect Save Our Seine River Environment Inc. to align goals, share priorities, resources, and shared initiatives; Develop a communication strategy to promote the Nature of Niakwa for members and the community at large; Develop a website to promote NCC project initiatives, and link ACSP resources, and community partnerships; Develop a database for members to post wildlife sightings.