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Eastmoreland Golf Course seeks Audubon certification

by: MERRY MACKINNON - Eastmoreland Golf Course Superintendent Kath Hauff is in the midst of an Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf Courses certification effort. One requirement of certification is for the golf course to do wildlife and habitat education and outreach. Here she stands next to a bird house on the links, made by local Boy Scouts. Becoming certified by the Audubon “Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf Courses” is a lengthy process, but when it’s completed, it will be a feather in Eastmoreland Golf Course’s cap.

“It’s all about maintaining a good golf course, while also maintaining a good environment on the golf course,” explains Eastmoreland Golf Course Superintendent Kathy Hauff.

As far as Hauff knows, only one other public golf course in Portland is certified by Audubon International – and that is Heron Lakes, certified in 1996.

With a goal of enhancing natural areas and wildlife habitats on golf courses and minimizing harmful impacts of golf course operations, Audubon International's Sanctuary Program for Golf Courses already has well over 800 certified members across the country listed on its website: www.auduboninternational.org/acspgolf.

Golfers who are birders, and want to protect the environment, as well as players who simply enjoy seeing wildlife while they’re on the course, may prefer golf on an Audubon-certified course.

“When you have a beautiful golf course with wildlife and natural settings, it’s a plus for the golfers, especially in a place like Portland,” Hauff observed.

That isn’t to say golfers aren't put off by the large clusters of Canadian geese grazing on Eastmoreland Golf Course’s grass – a problem that Hauff says was exacerbated this year by work at nearby Westmoreland Park to restore Crystal Springs Creek.

"All the geese have come over here," Hauff admits, adding a bit of scientific trivia we bet you never even wondered about: “And one goose poops 28 times a day.”

But seeing other sorts of wildlife on the course can be thrilling, as Hauff herself found when she sighted a deer with a mature set of horns on the course last fall. “A buck came through and he was hanging out here for awhile.”

Coyotes also come through, too. And being able to provide them, along with beaver, herons, and river otter, some habitat to hide in and clean water to drink and swim in, is part of what qualifies a golf course to be Audubon-certified. Water quality and conservation, and the avoidance of harmful chemicals in grounds maintenance, are also part of Audubon’s required management planning – as are education outreach efforts, such as one already completed involving local Boy Scouts, who made and installed bird houses on trees throughout the Eastmoreland Golf Course.

While Portland Parks and Recreation, which owns and operates this public golf course, has its own environmentally conscientious management plan in place for its golf courses, Hauff says that Audubon’s certification process helps her think about and document the different phases of environmental planning.

She figures it will take about a year and a half before she will be turning in the paperwork, and after Audubon representatives inspect the course, that it will be declared certified.