Seabrook Island, South Carolina is a wonderful example of how the path to environmental sustainability can grow and change over time. Home to two Audubon International certifications, this thriving community, located on a coastal barrier island in South Carolina, roughly an hour southwest of Charleston, is a certified Sustainable Community that is also home to one of our certified Cooperative Sanctuary golf courses.
The Seabrook Island Club was the first golf course in South Carolina to join the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf in 1996 and continues to maintain its certification today. For more than twenty years the unique, two-course club demonstrates their dedication to sustainability and quality of play, and just last year was named Club of the Year by the South Carolina Golf Association.
The Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Certification for Golf focuses on the five core program aspects to make the best decisions for the environment and their groundskeeping: Environmental Planning, Wildlife & Habitat Management, Outreach and Education, Chemical Use Reduction and Safety, Water Conservation, and Water Quality Management. In keeping with this, the Seabrook Island Club continues to make great improvements by increasing naturalized areas, creating wildlife corridors, testing water quality, utilizing an integrated pest management program, and much more.
On their last recertification review, Amy Dabbs, a Clemson Extension Horticulture Agent, was given a tour of the course by Sean Hardwick, Director of Golf Course Maintenance. Dabbs expressed:
“Seabrook Island Club proves that it is possible to balance humans, animals, and the environment in harmony. Their commitment to environmental stewardship is clear.”
After seeing Seabrook Island Club’s successful Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary certification process, the Seabrook Island Property Owners Association (SIPOA) decided to add a Sustainable Communities certification for their entire community. They soon became the first certified Sustainable Community in South Carolina after completing the requirements and meeting the strict program criteria in 2017.
As part of their Sustainable Communities certification, SIPOA had to develop and implement management practices and policies according to a community-driven Long Term Sustainability Plan (LTSP) that has timelines and measurable goals addressing 14 focus areas, including wildlife conservation and habitat enhancement, water conservation, energy efficiency, health, and transportation.
During the process, the community focused on promoting healthy lifestyles by creating designated smoke-free areas and supporting local farmers’ markets, as well as improving their environment with efforts including beach restoration. As a result, Seabrook Island was named one of America’s Best Restored Beaches by the American Shore and Beach Preservation Association in 2016. For the third time in 35 years, the beach was restored using inlet relocation methodology by replenishing it with beach-quality sand. This process helps reverse or offset the effects of erosion and in turn helps the beach provide more storm protection, better quality habitat for wildlife, and to maintain its use as a recreation destination. They currently have another beach restoration project planned for 2029.
To achieve their educational goals, SIPOA hosts multiple educational events every year on such issues as stormwater education, boaters-maritime/aquatic issues, and regional land use planning/development issues for residents and visitors. There are also environmentally focused reading materials available in the library and informational brochures.
Seabrook Island, Audubon International’s Sustainable Communities certification, and the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf show that both the community and club are dedicated to sustainability and the environment around them. If you’re interested in pursuing certification at your local club or community visit: auduboninternational.org.
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 programs are designed to increase environmental awareness, encourage sustainable environmental efforts, and educate both their members and their communities.