The program formed through a partnership between Audubon International and the Environmental Defense Fund, which encourages clubs and golf courses to create and maintain habitat for Monarch butterflies and other pollinators in out-of-play areas, has already enrolled more than 250 properties since it was launched in January. The sponsors have now set a new goal of enrolling 500 more courses and have established a website to recognize participating courses and provide a resource guide.
Audubon International and the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) have launched an effort called “Monarchs in the Rough,” which is designed to encourage clubs and golf courses to create and maintain habitat for Monarch butterflies and other pollinators, such as bees, in out-of-play areas on their properties. Participating properties are encouraged to plant milkweed and other wildflower habitat to attract and nurture butterflies and bees.
The campaign, begun in January of this year, has already enrolled more than 250 courses across the U.S., Canada and Mexico, and because of that response, the sponsors have now set a new goal of enrolling 500 more courses, while also establishing a new website, www.monarchsintherough.org, to recognize participating courses and provide a resource guide.
C&RB published news about the launch of the program in January and recently reported on the University of Maryland Golf Course’s participation (http://clubandresortbusiness.com/?s=Monarchs+in+the+Rough).
In the June 2018 issue of Club & Resort Business, the efforts of Paradise Valley (Ariz.) Country Club to support the Monarchs in the Rough program are described, as part of an article about that property’s annual “Audubon Day.”
“The response from the [club and golf] community to helping pollinators recover from dramatic declines in recent years has been tremendous,” said Christine Kane, CEO of Audubon International. “Habitat loss is a key driver of the monarch butterfly’s decline, and golf courses are uniquely positioned to help create new habitat and turn things around for this iconic species.”
Club and golf course properties occupy approximately 2.5 million acres in the United States, and Audubon International estimates there are at least 100,000 acres that have the potential to become suitable habitat for butterflies and bees, if managed appropriately.
The Monarchs in the Rough program encourages participating properties to adopt conservation practices such as planting milkweed and other wildflowers that monarchs need to breed and feed, in addition to changing mowing practices to support the timing of the monarch’s migration, and protecting sites from pesticide treatments.
“This program is not only helping to turn things around for the monarch—it’s also an opportunity for the [club] community to change the assumptions many people have about golf courses being unsustainable,” said Yank Moore, Land Manager for the Jekyll Island Authority and Golf Club in Jekyll Island, Ga.
“We have a real opportunity here to showcase the stewardship ethic of golf course managers and superintendents, and to educate the public about conservation practices that support monarchs and other pollinators,” Moore added.
Monarchs in the Rough provides course superintendents and staff with the information they need to incorporate monarch habitat into the unique layout of each course.“We bring the scientific expertise and the technical support, and the [club properties] bring the land and the staff who are already well-positioned to implement conservation practices,” said Daniel Kaiser, Senior Manager of Habitat Markets at EDF. “As an avid golfer and conservationist, I couldn’t be more excited about this partnership and the potential it has to help change the trajectory for the monarch butterfly.”
Participating properties expect that the golfers who play on their courses will share the enthusiasm.“I can’t wait to hear what our golfers have to say about these conservation efforts,” said Isaac Breuer, Golf Course Superintendent at the A.L. Gustin Golf Course at the University of Missouri. Breuer is an early-program participant who has incorporated wildlife habitat management into the university course since 2010.
“We know that our golfers notice and appreciate every effort we make to improve the natural beauty and sustainability of the course, because it makes the whole experience more enjoyable for both the golfer and the butterfly,” Breuer added.