Heron Glen Golf Course in Ringoes, N.J. gained recertification as an Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary by continuing to demonstrate that it is maintaining a high degree of environmental quality in a number of areas. Florida’s H.B. 967 was signed into law, acknowledging the long record of environmental stewardship that the state’s golf course superintendents have embraced.
Heron Glen Golf Course in Ringoes, N.J. has been recognized for environmental excellence, gaining recertification as an Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary, The Bucks County Herald reported.
Zachary T. Rich, Hunterdon County Board of Commissioners Deputy Director and Parks liaison, said, “High environmental standards are important in all our parks and recreations sites in Hunterdon County, as they serve to maintain our quality of life. Having the golf course meet the high standards established by the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary is a confirmation of that great effort.”
The purpose of the Sanctuary Program is to help course personnel plan, organize, implement, and document a comprehensive environmental management program and receive recognition for their efforts, The Herald reported. To reach certification, a course must demonstrate that it is maintaining a high degree of environmental quality in a number of areas including: environmental planning, wildlife and habitat management, outreach and education, chemical use reduction and safety, water conservation and water quality management.
“I am advised that of the 38,000 golf courses worldwide, Heron Glen is one of only 900 courses in the world to hold certification from Audubon International,” Rich said. “The recertification process is performed every three years and since 2015, the golf course has retained its designation as a Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary.”
In Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed H.B. 967 into law. The bill recognizes Florida’s Golf Course Best Management Practices Certification program. The bill went into effect on July 1.
“With Governor DeSantis’ signature, the new law recognizes the significant role that the golf industry has in Florida, and it also acknowledges the long record of environmental stewardship that Florida golf superintendents have embraced,” said J. Bryan Unruh, Ph.D., professor at the University of Florida and associate director of the West Florida Research and Education Center.
The Florida BMPs are one of the earliest success stories of GCSAA’s BMP initiative, which spearheaded the development of golf course BMP guidelines in all 50 states.
The Florida Golf Course BMP Certification Program was launched in 2012 and has been administered by the University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences’ Turfgrass Science Program since 2020. This voluntary program, now memorialized in state statute, affords BMP-certified golf course superintendents exemption from certain local training and ordinances relating to water and fertilizer use. However, the certification program does not exempt superintendents from complying with the rules and requirements for golf courses located in an area within a basin management action plan, a scientifically based program designed to fairly and equitably allocate pollution loads to both nonpoint and point sources.
In addition to University of Florida and Unruh, other key players in the passing of the law include members of the Florida Golf Course Superintendents Association; Florida GCSA President Andy Jorgensen, CGCS; the Southern Group; Florida State Sen. Joe Gruters and Florida State Rep. Keith Truenow, who originally introduced the bill.
“The passing of Bill 967 is a testament to the dedication superintendents and others in the turf industry have to maintaining golf courses through environmental best practices,” GCSAA Chief Executive Officer Rhett Evans said. “Florida was one of the earliest adopters of state golf course BMPs, so it is not surprising that industry leaders in the state were committed to seeing them recognized by law. We congratulate everyone in Florida for their hard work and success.”