TROY, NY – Thanks to support from the United States Golf Association, Audubon International launched their first everGlobal Golf Course BioBlitz 2015 in honor of Earth Day on April 22nd. The goal was to demonstrate the large diversity of species that call golf courses home, while engaging local interest and support of the green space and recreational opportunities that golf courses provide to their towns. Twenty-eight courses from all over North America participated in this self-directed event which took place from April 19-25, 2015. Participants were challenged to identify species at their course by engaging the community and local wildlife experts.
Audubon International was pleased with the courses that participated in the event and for their efforts to bring in community members to assist in identifying the species on their courses. Over two hundred individuals assisted in identifying 3,560 species on participating golf courses. Of those three thousand plus species, 2230 were unique to the course where they were identified.
Jim Schell, General Manager at the Venice Golf and Country Club in Florida, summed it up nicely, “The biggest surprise for me is that most life is so small. I have always been accustomed to looking up at the trees and the colorful foliage of plants, not at the smallest of creatures. I had no idea we had so much diverse life on this property. Even the birds escaped my untrained eye. Sure I saw the blue herons and wading birds but I did not see the others until they were pointed out to me. We focused our efforts on life that was observed from the golf course property. Everything listed here…although I am certain we missed more than we recorded”.
Courses who showed exceptional participation in the BioBlitz 2015 were awarded and presented with a framed Audubon Blue Bird print. Among the winners were, Venice Golf and Country Club in Venice Beach, FL who was awarded a prize for recording the highest number of species. Volunteers at Venice Beach spotted over 500 plant and wildlife species living on their course. The Southwinds Golf Course in Boca Raton, FL was recognized for having the most participants with a total of 49 volunteers who assisted in the species count and identification. The final contest was for the “Best Photo”. There were so many great submissions, it was hard to choose just one and both Stonebridge Country Club in Naples, FL and Mohegan Sun Golf Club in Baltic, CT were chosen as winners.
“The responses we received from people participating fell into two categories: those that couldn’t wait to do it next year, and those who were amazed by how much biodiversity lived on their lands,” said Doug Bechtel, AI’s Executive Director. “We couldn’t be happier with the turnout. This kind of event educates citizens about the benefits golf courses provide in their community.”