Sand Ridge Golf Club Celebrates Eighteen Years of Signature Program Certification

Sand Ridge Golf Club was recently recertified as a Signature Sanctuary after an on-site review by Audubon International. Sand Ridge registered in the Signature Program in 1998 and recently passed its eighth on-site review. The golf course was the first club in the state of Ohio to earn and maintain its certification in the prestigious Audubon International Signature Program.

To become certified, Signature Program members must implement management of the property according to a site-specific Natural Resource Management Plan (NRMP) addressing wildlife conservation and habitat enhancement, water quality monitoring and management, integrated pest management, water conservation, energy efficiency, waste reduction and management, and green building products and procedures. Receiving designation as a Certified Signature Sanctuary is contingent upon the quality and completeness of the NRMP and its implementation.

To become recertified, members must also provide an annual update. This includes documentation of education and outreach projects, results of water quality monitoring tests, list of pesticides used, and an on-site review by Audubon International staff.

Located only 30 miles east of Cleveland, Sand Ridge is home to 102 acres of high quality wetlands cared for by wetland specialist, Dr. Edward J.P. Hauser. Dr. Hauser has worked since 1993 to restore the wetlands to their original state by removing invasive woody species such as buckthorn.  This restoration operation has transformed overgrown thickets into acres of flowering native plants including Joe-Pye Weed in the fall and marsh marigolds in the spring. 

“It is always a pleasure to visit Sand Ridge to see what is in bloom, what wildlife can be observed, or what project has just been completed.  This year the focus was the restoration and functionality of the wetland system,” stated Nancy Richardson, Director of the Audubon International Signature Program during the recent visit.   

In addition to general maintenance projects such cart path renovations, purchase of new equipment, bunker renovation, and storm water drainage projects, the environmental highlights of the property over the years include the following:

  • Conservation Easement. All open space including over 100 acres of natural wetlands, 100 acres of uplands and created lakes, and the golf course are protected by a conservation easement held in perpetuity by the Western Reserve Conservancy of Northeast Ohio.
  • Naturalized Acreage. Since 2000, approximately 65 acres of the original golf course footprint has been converted to upland open meadows.  The annual savings is estimated to be about $65,000. Such eco-tones added new areas for food niches and microhabitats for invertebrate and vertebrate wildlife, especially insects, birds, and rodents. 
  • Bio-Diesel Fuel. All major internal combustion equipment now burns a B-20 fuel mixture which produces maximum engine performance, extends engine life, and reduces CO₂ emissions by 50%.
  • Monarch Habitat. Hundreds of milkweed plants have been introduced into the meadow areas to provide habitat for the Monarch butterfly.  
  • Goose Management. A solar powered night-time blinking light helps keep Canada geese off of the course from dusk to dawn.
  • Beaver Dam. Over the past years, the creation of open water zones by a beaver dam impoundment has created new habitat for plants such as Bottle Brush Sedge and Water Loosestrife. The loosestrife in particular has helped stabilize the beaver dam to protect the hydrology of this newly confirmed fen ecosystem.
  • Invasive Plant Removal. Removal and eradication of invasive plants is necessary to prevent their encroachment and impact on native species.  Eradication process of the invasive plant Purple Loosestrife begun in 2001 is now deemed successful. Buckthorn (Rhamnus frangula) was prevalent particularly in hole #16 wetland so a manual eradication program was begun in 2001. Invasive species removal continues as a part of the management regime.

“We are very proud of our accomplishments with the Signature Program,” stated Brent Palich, Director of Golf Operations for Sand Ridge. “Prior to opening in 1998, the club and Audubon International set lofty goals for Sand Ridge. The course was not only expected to be one of Ohio’s best golf courses, but also a leader in environmental sustainability.  The guidelines set by Audubon International helped us reach these goals over the last 18 years.”                                              

About Sand Ridge Golf Club

Sand Ridge Golf Club, a Tom Fazio-designed 18 hole private golf course, sits in a region of the country known for its maple syrup and within the primary snow belt of northeastern Ohio on 359 acres in the western foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. The 17th hole of the golf course is known as “Headwaters” because it is located in the headwater area for the Chagrin River and Cuyahoga River watersheds of Lake Erie. 

Contact Nancy Richardson, Director of Signature and Classic Programs, for more information about Sand Ridge Golf Club or the Signature Program. 

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