Prescribed Burns Restore Long Leaf Pine Savannah at The Preserve Golf Club

The Preserve Golf Club is a certified Audubon International Signature Sanctuary located just outside Ocean Springs, Mississippi which provides a unique golfing experience surrounded by 1,800 acres of nature. The Preserve sits amongst a Longleaf Pine Savannah, a habitat type whose original range has been reduced by 97% due to changed land use practices across the United States (USDA and US Forest Service).

After recognizing the sensitive location, the course developers began their sustainability journey when they enrolled in Signature Sanctuary Certification, Audubon International’s most elite certification track designed for golf course development.

Stephen Miles, The Preserve’s Director of Golf Operations, has been managing the course since they achieved their Signature Sanctuary certification in 2007. As part of their certification, Stephen and his crew manage the health of their native area ecosystems in numerous ways – one of which is providing fire, something that Longleaf Pine Savannahs thrive on.

According to Alabama A & M and Auburn Universities Extensions, historically “Long leaf pine was maintained by periodic, low intensity fires. These fires started either by lightning strikes during the growing season or by Native Americans ignition” prior to its suppression beginning in the 1900s.

The Preserve Golf Club completes prescribed burns annually, rotating between natural areas. The burns are completed under the direction of their Golf Course Superintendent and Certified Prescribed Burn Manager, Jeremy Stevens who has been a part of The Preserve Golf Club team since 2005.

“Our environmental management strategy at The Preserve includes utilizing the most environmentally friendly management techniques. Prescribed burning has had a huge impact on the beauty of our facility. Most facilities are overgrown with brush and trees that is absolutely not natural. Our facility is the only course in the region that allows visitors to catch a glimpse of what the longleaf pine habitat should look like. Fire has been promoted not suppressed at The Preserve.”  – Stephen Miles, Director of Golf Operations, The Preserve Golf Club

These regular prescribed burns remove invasive vegetation, restore native grasses and forbs, and provide the perfect setting for their longleaf pines lining many fairways on the course. The Preserve Golf Club continues their certification efforts, and most recently underwent an Audubon International recertification site visit this year.

Whether you’re a resident or just passing through Mississippi, Audubon International encourages you to book a tee time at The Preserve Golf Club, a certified Signature Sanctuary and observe their dedication to sustainability.

Audubon International, an environmentally focused non-profit organization offers members numerous certifications and conservation initiatives to protect the areas where we live, work, and play. Their certifications are designed to increase environmental awareness, encourage sustainable environmental efforts, and educate both their members and their communities.

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