Broomfield, Colo. – February 2010 – Vail Resorts
is pleased to announce their six owned golf courses have achieved designation as “Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuaries” through the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf Courses. The courses include: Red Sky Golf Club: Tom Fazio & Greg Norman courses, Keystone Ranch Golf Course, Beaver Creek Golf Club, The River Course at Keystone, and Jackson Hole Golf & Tennis Club.
Jim Slutier, staff ecologist for the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program commented that, “Vail Resorts Golf has shown a strong commitment to its environmental program. They are to be commended for their efforts to provide a sanctuary for wildlife on the golf course properties.” Slutier explained, “To reach certification, a course must demonstrate that it is maintaining a high degree of environmental quality in a number of areas. These categories include: Environmental Planning, Wildlife & Habitat Management, Outreach & Education, Chemical Use Reduction and Safety, Water Conservation and Water Quality Management.”
In many instances golf course operators have gone beyond the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary framework to implement best management practices that engage employees, members, and the local communities in sustainability efforts. Some shared practices include on-course recycling dating back several years; extensive efforts to support healthy habitat and migration patterns for area wildlife; the expansion of natural areas that do not require maintenance and water, thus conserving fuel, water and chemical management; and in many cases the use of organic fertilizers. Vail Resorts golf courses each exemplify several of these efforts in the following ways:
Red Sky Ranch, Beaver Creek, CO (Tom Fazio Course & Greg Norman Course)
Taking the lead in expanding company use of alternative fuels, at Red Sky Ranch in Beaver Creek, Colorado, the Tom Fazio and Greg Norman courses expanded their use of biodiesel to power equipment in the summer of 2009. On-site weather stations and a state of the art irrigation system ensure maximum water conservation. The use of air blowers to clean equipment, instead of washing them down with water, alone saves roughly 40,000 gallons of water per year.
Keystone Ranch Golf Course & The River Course at Keystone
The courses go to great lengths to recycle as many materials as possible, including aeration plugs that are used for different projects on the golf course, such as building berms into the design of the course or filling in along cart paths. Extra plugs are given to course neighbors and employees for their use and plans are underway to compost plugs and use them for fairway topdressing. Looking at every aspect of course operations, management offers tee towels that are made of cloth and washed for reuse throughout the golf season. For the past two years, the courses have also hosted a Christmas tree cutting day for Summit County 4-H, which helps with necessary thinning of trees and help the second hole green, while providing a service to the community.
Jackson Hole Golf & Tennis Club, Jackson, WY
Adjacent to Grand Teton National Park outside Jackson, Wyoming, wildlife such as bison, moose, and elk travel across the course daily. The area is also habitat for native Cutthroat Trout. To support habitat for several years the course has partnered with Trout Unlimited, United States Golf Association, Grand Teton National Park Service, and the University of Montana on the Lower Gros Ventre River Drainage Study to track migration and patterns of Native Cutthroat Trout. In 2007, a new clubhouse was constructed and certified to the US Green Building Council LEED Gold level, an honor held by only a couple of clubhouses in the country. In 2010 the fleet vehicle and fuel reduction initiative will replace three heavy duty, low mileage trucks with a hybrid vehicle and a high mile per gallon work vehicle. To ensure members understand the value of waste reduction, each will be given a reusable water bottle as a gift to use at refilling stations at nearly every hole.
Beaver Creek Golf Club
Taking the expansion of natural areas to a more extensive level, the course focuses on “buffer zones” especially around creeks and ponds and has created waterfowl nesting grounds. These “buffer zones” along the waterways produce cleaner water, and their water samples confirm that the water is cleaner when it leaves the golf courses than when it flows in. To further reduce water use, “part-circle” irrigation heads have been installed along the property boundaries.