Blog

Here you can find all the latest Audubon International news! From the great environmental efforts of our members, to where we will be next, to helpful tips you can apply at your golf course, you can find it all here.
  • 09/08/2013 7:19 PM | Anonymous

    We often hear from golf courses and communities that are dealing with algae in their ponds and lakes, but a recent story from China adds a new angle. This radio program that I heard last month linked seaweed farming for sushi off the coast of China to one of the biggest algal blooms on the planet. Some Chinese restaurants have seized on this onslaught of local sea vegetation and added it to their menus. A new version of the old adage about lemons: When life gives you seaweed, make sushi?


    The reporter went on to explain that fertilizers used on farms and on people’s lawns are common contributors to conditions that cause algae blooms around the world, in China and in the Gulf of Mexico. These blooms occur when temperatures, sunlight, and nutrient levels are just right to support a major increase in the number of algae in an aquatic system, and they are becoming more common. What are algae anyway? Algae are microscopic plants that do not have true leaves, roots or flowers, but perform photosynthesis and consume oxygen all the same. Their presence is a natural part of the system, but any explosion in their numbers indicates an imbalance in the water body’s ecology.


    Farmers in the Chesapeake Bay region are taking steps to prevent erosion of sediments from farm fields into streams by keeping cattle off stream banks, planting nitrogen absorbing plants in fields, and using buffer strips. They hope to prevent future outbreaks that degrade the Chesapeake's important fisheries and shellfish beds.


    Lawns can provide important aesthetic and environmental benefits, including filtering out pollutants from stormwater that can contribute to nutrient buildup. Maintaining a lawn thick enough to serve as a water filtration buffer may require occasional applications of fertilizer. When needed, natural fertilizers such as compost, grass clippings, or manure are often cheaper and less likely to have toxic side effects than synthetic versions. However, a delicate balance is needed to avoid over-applying nutrients, especially anywhere turfgrass is located near a water body. Ideally, homeowners can select drought-resistant blends of grasses that require little or no mowing and no fertilizer. 


    In its latest enewsletter, the Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) urged homeowners to allow established lawns to go dormant during hot dry weather in summer. Applying fertilizer to force a lawn to turn green during its dormancy period can damage the grass and contribute to nutrient pollution in streams, rivers, bays, and the ocean. Dormant lawns will green up when cooler temperatures arrive and rainfall increases.


    As is often the case, a few small changes to your land management can make a huge different for the environment. And keeping our lakes, oceans, and streams free of scummy, green mats and full of fish is worth a little effort.


    To learn more about algal blooms, visit this NOAA website

  • 08/08/2013 12:11 PM | Nancy Richardson (Administrator)

    I have been through New Mexico many times usually driving on the way to some place else.  Of those trips, places like Sante Fe during Easter, or Taos for the arts, or even Sedona with its red rock are towns that are stuck in my memory.  But Ruidoso was not a place that I had heard of before The Golf Club at Rainmakers joined the Silver Signature Program.  I had heard of White Sands National Monument and I had heard of Roswell (ooh, extra-terrestrials).  Both of these towns were an easy drive from Ruidoso so I knew about where this town was located (basically in the middle of nowhere).  I learned Ruidoso was a year-round tourist destination offering golf, skiing, horseracing, hotels, cabins, resorts, hiking, and camping.  How could I have missed this place?

    My reason for going there was to review The Golf Club at Rainmakers to confirm through an on-site review that it had met the criteria of the Signature Program.  Going up a mountain at dark is not a choice I normally would make, but a little incident along the way slowed me a bit during that 3 hour drive southeast of Albuquerque through lonely high desert to a small town called Alto, near Ruidoso.  The club manager, Reeves McGuire, said he would meet me at a determined turn-off and lead me in to the community. Sounded ominous but as night fell, I was glad he was there waiting for me.  It was pitch black, and I could not see what was beyond the edge of the two-lane roadway I was driving on.

    But the next morning, all was revealed.  The 18-hole Robert Trent II-designed golf course is actually located in the southern Rockies of south central New Mexico within the Lincoln National Forest at nearly 7,000 feet above sea level on 125 acres of juniper-pinon pine woodlands.   With panaramic views of the 12,000 foot peak of Sierra Blanca and the Sacremento and Capitan mountains, the property is bounded to the east by the Fort Stanton Area of Critical Environmental Concern managed by the Bureau of Land Management. 

    The golf course itself sits on the southern slope of the Rainmakers residential community which is located on a total of about 1,000 acres that were relatively undsitrubed.   Rainmakers has set aside 135 acres  as a wildlife habitat and conservation area.  The name of the development and its image was in recognition of the first residents of this acreage.  Before the project was begun, at the groundbreaking, the land was blessed by a Mescalero tribal leader and medicine man.  Entry into the community is through a set of iron gates with an iron macaw standing guard. In honor of the tribal heritage, all of the streets have been named after Indian Tribes.

    Although I had followed Rainmakers construction through photos, this was my first visit to the site, and I was stunned by the scenic vistas at each golf hole.  It was hard to move on from hole to hole.  Not only were the mountains hypnotic, but the 40-foot deep arroyos running along many of the fairways seemed to pull me toward them.  Next to one particualrly steep  area on hole #6, I encountered a rock wren and its mate jumping around in and under rock ledges.  They were making noises as if to say "Which rock do you like best?" since I supposed they were looking for a nesting site.  It was interesting that they were not in the least disturbed by our presence.

    Protection and conservation of natural resources at a residential golf community in New Mexico is quite challenging.  Ruidoso is semi-arid and recieves less than 2 inches of rain per month throughout most of the year.  To address this challenge, Rainmakers employs many water management and design techniques.  Among those are:

    • Unlike traditional sprinkler systems which turn themselves on at a specified time and deliver a pre-specified amount of water, each of the sprinkler heads on the golf course is digitally tied to an on-site weather station that monitors rainfall, humidity, etc. and reduces or suspends sprinkler activity based on locally-falling precipitation.
    • The arc and angle of each sprinkler head is also independently controlled, placing the right amount of water exactly where it needs to go.  Only 67.1 acres or 54 percent of the course acreage is being irrigated.
    • Natural polymers were incorporated over the greens and fairways while the course was being built.  Each time the spinklers are turned on and whenever it rains, the polymers soak in the water and expand 500 times in size, keeping the soil moist and healthy long after the water stops coming down. This saves Rainmakers an estimated 30 percent of its annual water consumption on the course.  The polymers are 100 percent environmenally, human and animal safe.
    • The landscape architecture includes a wide variety of indigenous flowers and grasses that complement the southwestern ecosystem requiring less water for survival and less labor for their management.  In addition, 90 percent of the re-vegetation on and around the course was accomplished with plants that originally grew on the site thereby preserving the local gene pool.
    • For holes such as #3 that has a steep elevation change and where the hole plays over a ravine, an additional 18 inches of soil was added to the fairway so as to eliminate the need to cut trees growing up in the ravine.  This allowed line of site for the hole without additional disturbance.
    • Both surface and subsurface drainage was directed away from the many dry arroyos and the lake,  and discharged over the native and naturalized areas.  Swales were constructed and lined with stone to slow velocity of any run-off before discharge into vegetated areas.
    • Storm water is collected to drain into rocky basins and infiltrate back to the water table.

    With the golf course's certification, Rainmakers now joins other certified Signature Sanctuaries in twenty-nine US states and five countries including China, Portugal, Spain, Canada, and Puerto Rico.    Congratulations Rainmakers! Great job!

    I may have missed Ruidoso before this trip, but it is on my radar now.   I plan to return there the first opportunity (and maybe even drive over to Roswell?)

  • 06/28/2013 1:39 PM | Deleted user

    Audubon International is a long time member of the EPA Pesticide Environmental Stewardship Program (PESP). We were recently contacted by our PESP liaison regarding the incident last week in Wilsonville, OR where an estimated 25,000 bumblebees were found dead or dying. They requested our help in spreading the word that it is imperative that products with the active ingredient dinotefuran be applied according to label with particular attention to avoiding applications or drift onto any flowing plants. (The Oregon Department of Agriculture has temporarily restricted the use of 18 ornamental, turf, and agricultural pesticide products containing the active ingredient dinotefuran by both professional applicators and homeowners as the investigation continues.) For more information about the incident, the restriction, and the investigation, the EPA recommends visiting the Oregon Department of Agriculture website.

    This serves as a good reminder there are always risks associated with chemical use, including serious consequences for people, the environment, and your business. Risks are not only limited to chemicals in their liquid, gas, or particulate form, but also in the form of dust, fumes, fibers, mists, and vapors.

    Human Risks

    • Physical hazards - Chemical reactions can result in fire, explosion, or toxic gas release, which cause physical trauma if chemicals are handled or stored improperly.
    • Health hazards - Harmful health effects (illness, chronic disease, sub-lethal impacts) can be caused directly from chemicals.

    Environmental Risks

    • Diminished water quality - The likelihood of pesticide contamination of ground water and water wells depends partly on the geologic and hydrologic characteristics of the site, as well as on pesticide characteristics. Contamination is usually the result of improper application or careless handling, storage, or disposal of unused pesticides and pesticide containers.
    • Detrimental effects on non-target species - Chemical drift or runoff may impact wildlife species in the vicinity of the chemical application.
    • Poor soil structureundefinedDisturbance to soil structure and organisms from chemical use negatively impacts nutrient cycling and plant growth.

    Business Risks

    • Liability - Improper storage or handling of chemicals increases liability. Contamination can result in costly environmental cleanup and fines.
    • Poor public opinion - The public has repeatedly voiced concern regarding chemical use and its environmental and health effects.
    • Pest resistance - Target pests can develop resistance to a chemical that is used repeatedly, resulting in the need to use increasingly toxic chemicals to control the pest.
  • 06/19/2013 3:07 PM | Deleted user

    One of the aspects I love most about my job is how much I continue to expand my knowledge on a regular basis. Sometimes I increase my technical skills, other times I pick up great stories to add to my repertoire, and occasionally I come across local resources that can help us help you to make a difference. Two such resources crossed my path this week, and I would like to share them with you.

    The past few years I have been involved in the planning and implementations of Live Green! events across the country. In preparing for our next event in Pineville, LA, I was asked if we might be able to tackle a significant stream erosion problem. Needing help, I jumped on the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries website and found what I was hoping for, a Private Land Management Assistance Program (in other states, they are often called Landowner Incentive Programs). Within a couple of hours I had connected our member and a professional biologist who visited the site. As I suspected, it was too large a project for our Live Green! event, but they are now working on a plan that will also include financial assistance in stabilizing the stream bank. Google your state name and “landowner assistance program” to see what available. I was unable to come across any programs outside the United States, but that doesn’t mean they do not exist.

    I was already familiar with the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency website. During a webinar today I learned of other programs providing technical and financial water conservation incentives. You can search these rebates and incentives through the EPA WatersSense website as well as your local water utility.

    Members often ask me where to go to bolster their Resource Advisory Group or Green Team. These are a few great places to start to get the local expertise and possibly financial assistance you need to get your environmental program to the next level.

  • 06/14/2013 4:02 PM | Nancy Richardson (Administrator)

    As the song goes" Nothing could be finer, than to be in Carolina, in the morning" or all day long for that matter.  I found this to be true as I recently spent a beautiful sunny day in North Carolina with staff from NC State and their Lonnie Poole Golf Course.  The course was registered in the Audubon International Silver Signature Program in November 2007, opened in 2009, and now fully operational, was ready for the on-site review. The goal of this site visit was to confirm that the Natural Resource Management Plan (NRMP), written by university professors, had been implemented and that the program criteria for certification had been met.

    Sitting within the city limits of Raleigh, this 18-hole golf course is located on North Carolina State University (NCSU) Centennial Campus where it is truly  an island of green within the urban environment.  Named after an alumnus of the same name (Lonnie Poole), the course was designed by Arnold Palmer Group designers and NCSU alumni, Brandon Johnson and Erik Larsen.  To begin the day, we met at the maintenance facility office where Dr. Dan Adams, Associate Vice Chancellor, gave an overview of the project as well as a bit of property history to our assembled group.

    When possible, I like to begin a golf course review with hole #1 and work through to hole #18 and then go on to the maintenance facility. I was joined on the course via a golf cart procession by Dr. Tom Rufty, professor in NCSU's Crop Science Department, and the one who has been involved with this project since its inception.  He was a wealth of knowledge about the planning process and was obviously very familiar with the site. In addition, Dr. Denesha Carley, Coordinator for Sustainability Programs in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences joined us as did golf course superintendent Brian Green and other staff throughout the day.  We switched up cart occupants during the day so that I could get the benefit of everyone's knowledge.  We stopped often, in many cases to view drianage pipe exit points and then to determine where the flow originated including whether the filtration was sufficient and appropriate--all in an effort to confirm water protection and quality.

    The cart paths twisted and turned gently along the fairways weaving around the forty plus acres of buffers throughout the site. Mature forest and understory  in this Piedmont Region ecosystem  was preserved as part of the original design.  At certain points along the way, I could see and hear traffic on the nearby Interstate 40.  But as we moved away from the outer perimeter of the course, the insulation provided by shagbark hickory, sugar maple, sweet gum, loblolly pine, white oak and other tree species became evident. 

    The primary wildlife habitat centers for the course are the extensive buffer areas protecting both created and natural surface water bodies.  The buffer areas and ponds provide excellent wildlife corridors throughout.  The golf course actually appears as if it was dropped right into the landscape as evidenced further by huge boulders  popping out of the ground along   several of the golf holes.  Simply put, the golf course serves as a very effective large-scale wildlife corridor.  The success of the corridor was documented as I observed or heard  over thirty different bird species during the day including such grassland species as Eastern meadowlark, Eastern kingbird, chipping sparrow, American goldfinch and red-tailed hawk. In addition, there were many turtles sunning themselves on logs in the lakes, a beaver lodge, a black snake sunning itself along a trail, and several white-tailed deer hiding at the edge of the understory.

    Efforts for enhancing wildlife communities on and peripheral to the property include:

    1. Monitoring for invasive exotics with follow-up maintenance to deplete the invasive species seed bank.  Kudzu in particular covered over half of the site initially.

    2. Beneficial insect population monitoring as an indicator of ecosystem health.

    3. Use of native plants throughout the landscape.

    4.Use of the course as an outdoor classroom and living laboratory for NCSU's professional golf management and turfgrass degree programs.

    5. Implementation of a productive bluebird nest box system as a positive indicator of a healthy ecosystem

    6. Floating islands of vegetation to pull nturients from the water bodies lowering activators for algae growth.  Although I had seen many floating islands in Florida, this was the first that I had seen so far north.

    In addition to the on-site research, the university reaches out to the community beginning with nature walks for  students from the elementary school located adjacent to the course. Stormwater from the school is directed into a sediment basin on the golf course, an ideal solution to the school's storm water volume and movement problems. The stormwater flow also provides water for the created wetland/filtration area on the golf course.  As stated by Dr. Carley "The constructed wetlands are natural filters. The biological, chemical,  and physical conditions within wetlands create ideal conditions for removing many pollutants from water." So both the golf course and the school benefit from each other. Students can walk across the street to learn about wetland function, water conservation, and wildlife habitat enhancement.  How cool is that.

    Lonnie Poole is now designated as a Certified Silver Audubon International Signature Sanctuary.  Lonnie Poole joins Kansas State University's Colbert Hills Golf Course as the only two university properties in the world to earn this certification. To hear more about Carolina projects, check back in coming weeks.

     

     

  • 05/30/2013 10:58 AM | Deleted user

    Through most of North America, nesting season is in full swing. Here are some friendly reminders on how to protect wildlife during this vulnerable time:

    Avoid disturbance to known nest or den sites

    Since all wildlife species must successfully breed and raise young to survive, it is important to avoid disturbing nests, den sites, or other breeding habitat - especially during the spring when breeding activity peaks. In fact, it is illegal under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act to “take” native bird nests, eggs, or young without a permit. Protect ground nests (e.g., killdeer nests) with flagging, stakes, or ropes to avoid intrusion. Be sure to let people know why the area is marked with a sign at the site and/or in a prevalent location where everyone is sure to see it. 

    Avoid disturbance to unknown nest or den sites

    In tall grass areas, do not mow until after young birds have left their nests. Avoid thinning woods or trimming shrubs during the spring as birds are very successful at hiding their nests and you cannot be sure to notice them.

    As an example, ruby-throated hummingbird nests are the size of a thimble. According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, they "normally place their nest on a branch of a deciduous or coniferous tree; however, these birds are accustomed to human habitation and have been known to nest on loops of chain, wire, and extension cords." How likely is it that you or your staff would notice such a small nest hidden in the shrub next to the entrance door? Avoid the risk and do your trimming at a different time of year.

    Educate maintenance workers

    Routinely review environmentally sound maintenance practices with the maintenance crew. Set high expectations and follow up on careless or inappropriate practices.

    Mount signage

    One of the most effective ways to protect special habitats is to mount signs. In certain areas you may choose to use a simple “Environmentally Sensitive Area” sign. Other areas may warrant an explanation of your expectations (e.g., No Carts-Keep Out), a statement of why the area is significant (e.g., Wildlife Habitat; Nesting Area; Native Prairie), or both.

    Minimize traffic

    Limiting traffic in habitat areas minimizes habitat disturbance and fragmentation. Route vehicular and foot traffic away from any environmentally sensitive areas.

    Communicate

    Look for ways to inform people in greater detail about sensitive habitats or species in need of protection. Blogs, newsletter articles, bulletin board notices, meetings, and seasonal site tours can be successful.

    Monitor, document, and report

    Going beyond nest boxes, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's NestWatch program collects information on all breeding birds from citizen scientists just like you! Their extensive database “is intended to be used to study the current condition of breeding bird populations and how they may be changing over time as a result of climate change, habitat degradation and loss, expansion of urban areas, and the introduction of non-native plants and animals.” As an added bonus, working with patrons, staff, and local organizations to collect data is a fun way to bolster your outreach efforts and your results can help you significantly with your own communications.

  • 05/23/2013 10:15 AM | Deleted user

    One of the important lessons that we have learned over the years is that small projects can have large impacts. As an example, when the staff at TPC Snoqualmie Ridge in Snoqualmie, WA finished adding a pool to the grounds, they took the opportunity to not only restore the nearby area to pre-construction status, but specifically enhance the area to create food and shelter for birds while also providing an observation areas for members.

    For member comfort, some sod was laid down so members could easily access the area. Then the area was landscaped with native plants, including ferns, salmonberry, huckleberry, Oregon grape, and other fruit bearing shrubs.

    The $800 in materials and staff time were considered well worth the cost. Future plans are to add signage and label the plants to further increase the educational value of this demonstration area.

    This small area, so easily accessible, provides a focal point for how the staff cares for the environment, and is highlighted during Earth Day. It has also increased awareness and appreciation of all the natural areas surrounding the golf course. “The finished result was a native area restored with the added attribute of facilitating wildlife observation and relaxation courtesy of Mother Nature.”

  • 05/07/2013 3:32 PM | Anonymous

    In addition to offering Audubon International certification for your sustainability efforts, we look for other ways you can receive cash prizes and recognition. Here are three opportunities, which relate to economic development, health, and innovation in sustainability and have deadlines in the next month. Contact me if you would like assistance in submitting an application to any of these.


    The Ocean Exchange invites businesses, organizations, and individuals from around the world to register their solutions for reducing use of nature’s resources and waste for their annual monetary awards or Industry Excellence Awards. Solution Creators seeking financial support can register their Solutions to compete to be one of the top 10 entries chosen to present at the Exchange in Savannah, Georgia on Sept. 30 & Oct. 1 2013 and be eligible for one of two $100,000 awards. Corporations and organizations with Solutions registered in the Ocean Exchange Gallery may also be eligible for the Excellence Awards, and the top 3 of these Solutions chosen by the global review panel will be invited to present at the opening reception on September 29, 2013.

    Deadline: May 19, 11:59PM (GMT)

    Website: http://www.oceanexchange.org/register-for-gallery/


    The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Roadmaps to Health Prize is awarded annually to honor outstanding community efforts and partnerships that are helping people live healthier lives. Winning communities each receive a $25,000 cash prize and have their success stories celebrated and shared broadly with the goal of raising awareness and inspiring locally-driven change across the country.

    Deadline: Thursday, May 23, 3pm ET

    Website: http://www.rwjf.org/en/grants/calls-for-proposals/2013/robert-wood-johnson-foundation-roadmaps-to-health-prize-2013-201.html


    Find Financial Assistance for Economic Development of Stressed Areas -

    The Economic Development Administration (EDA) EDA provides strategic investments that foster job creation and attract private investment to support development in economically distressed areas of the United States. EDA is currently soliciting applications from rural and urban communities to develop initiatives that advance new ideas and creative approaches to address rapidly evolving economic conditions. Under this Opportunity, EDA solicits applications to provide investments that support construction, non-construction, technical assistance, and revolving loan fund projects under EDA’s Public Works and Economic Adjustment Assistance programs.

    Deadline: June 13

    Website: http://www.grants.gov/search/search.do;jsessionid=knDpQzXGJ6gWnzy1h6Tn3D1fjKBNK9Fw40vlTDxWx3xrJGpLpCN4!-861966415?oppId=208353&mode=VIEW

     

  • 05/02/2013 10:53 AM | Fredrik Realbuto (Administrator)

    What better way to spend Earth Day 2013 than celebrating the environmental accomplishments of the Lake Placid/Saranac region of New York State generally and those of lodging and tourism sector specifically?!

    On April 22, I was invited to represent Audubon International at a media event held at one of the most environmentally friendly lodging facilities in the country, the Golden Arrow Lakeside Resort. Located on the shores of beautiful and aptly named Mirror lake, the Golden Arrow boasts the highest rating (Platinum) within the Audubon Green Lodging Program, a prestigious designation that has currently only been bestowed to two other lodging facilities in the region – Gauthier’s Saranac Lake Inn (Saranac Lake, NY) and the Lake Clear Lodge (Lake Clear, NY).

    The environmental spirit of the region, as evidenced by these properties, made for a perfect backdrop to celebrate Earth Day 2013.

    It was doubly fitting that Audubon International staff had an opportunity to take part in these Earth Day activities in the region given that the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf Courses (a 2,000+ member program that has now been in existence for over 20 years) had its roots in Lake Placid, New York. Furthermore, our organization is currently engaged in exciting new discussions with leaders from local commerce and municipalities in the Adirondack Region who are interested in aggressively advancing their collective commitment to sustainability at the facility-, community-, and regional-scale.

    Feeding off of the energy and enthusiasm of local stakeholders, each week we are helping businesses and communities in the Adirondacks identify new ways to safeguard their natural resources while simultaneously enhancing social and economic well being. We look forward to being back up there real soon!

  • 04/30/2013 4:50 PM | Anonymous

    Last week, Katie and I visited three coastal communities in South Carolina and Georgia making great strides in the field of sustainability. We had a chance to see firsthand how each community uniquely expresses itself using the same basic palette of maritime forest, marshland, and ocean dunes. 

    In each community, sustainability leaders eagerly pointed out to us their native wildlife and described the strategies they use to ensure peaceful coexistence of humans and native species. As part of the Atlantic Flyway, birding opportunities abound on these islands, and they have set aside nesting areas for pileated woodpeckers, osprey, wood storks, snow geese, and so much more. Residents and visitors also enjoy sightings of dolphins, alligators, horseshoe crabs, and turtles, making these places truly feel wild. I saw alligators (for the first time!) in every community: one floating in Hilton Head Island’s garden pond at Town Hall, two babies in the Camp St. Christopher’s Herpetarium on Seabrook Island, and several adults sunning on lagoon banks on Skidaway Island, including one visible from a Club dining room.

    Katie and I met Joellen at The Landings community on Skidaway Island to discuss how the Sustainable Communities Program could build on their many resident-driven environmental and social initiatives. Previously they completed an environmental assessment and a few projects for AI’s Green Neighborhoods Program, but the Community Association wants to further their commitment to sustainability. They have been working with Joellen for years, and all six of their golf courses are certified. We had the great opportunity to see short presentations by 15 community groups who work on everything from the turtle hatchery to the community garden. I explained how a sustainability planning process will help them to better communicate about their assets and values to community residents (prospective and current) as well as help coordinate existing initiatives. After the presentations, I received many comments that residents and Board members were surprised how much they learned – either about community projects they didn’t know existed or aspects of sustainability they hadn’t considered before.

    Being in the region also offered an opportunity to check in with two communities that are in Stage Two of the Sustainable Communities Program: Hilton Head Island and Seabrook Island. A visit by AI is always a good time to bring new committee members up to speed on past accomplishments and make a case for the benefits to pursuing sustainability. It also gives us a chance to connect members from our golf course and Green Lodging programs with the local planning process to draw more of the community into conversations about goals, priorities, and projects. By fostering an ethic of sustainability in the region, AI is helping these communities contribute to an overall sustainable regional economy and the protection of important coastal ecosystems.

    Following the lead created by initial developers of Hilton Head and Seabrook, such as Charles Fraser, town staff and dedicated volunteers are responsible for many innovative policies and projects that have created the beautiful atmosphere you see in these special communities. Strongly enforced tree preservation policies ensure that live oaks dripping with Spanish moss stretch over most neighborhood streets and beach boardwalks. Even the Walmart had integrated its building and parking lot into the existing landscape.

    Now that green infrastructure and water conservation are catching on everywhere, it seems like no big deal that these communities used parkland for stormwater management and reuse community wastewater on golf courses – but these were cutting edge strategies when they were originally implemented.

    While each of these communities faces its own unique challenges, they are all seeking to create more sustainable economies based on their place-based identities. With more tailored promotional branding, they will be able to attract the type of resident who will value the natural beauty and not expect to knock down every tree on their lot, have a non-native lawn, or avoid wildlife interactions. These communities offer a variety of housing stock that encourages a diversity of income levels and recreation options that include golf, biking, kayaking, and birding, drawing families looking for an active lifestyle. Recreational opportunities based on wildlife and open water in turn encourage environmentally-sensitive lifestyles.

    Through the sustainability plan process, active and engaged community members will now join forces with community leadership to identify projects needed to enhance their natural and cultural assets. Check this space in the coming months to hear more about forthcoming projects at Seabrook, Skidaway, and Hilton Head such as converting malls to open air shopping, supporting new farmers markets, and installing solar panels on community centers, just to name a few.

                      

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