Audubon International’s seventh annual BioBlitz documents a large diversity of species living on golf courses. The event, which took place over the month of June, provides a unique opportunity for golf courses to engage their community members in activities designed to showcase and record the abundance of wildlife thriving on course landscapes across the U.S. and Canada.
Nearly 500 volunteers visited golf courses worldwide this summer to participate in Audubon International’s seventh annual BioBlitz after a three-year Covid-19 hiatus. They identified and recorded more than 3,000 species of animals and wildlife.
This event, which took place over the month of June this year, provides a unique opportunity for golf courses to engage their community members in activities designed to showcase and record the abundance of wildlife thriving on course landscapes across the U.S. and Canada.
“Audubon International’s annual BioBlitz is a great way for golf courses to create an awareness among society of their wildlife habitat value, especially in urban locations,” said Christine Kane, CEO at Audubon International. “It’s also a wonderful opportunity for community members from all walks of life to meet and learn about nature while getting outside and having fun.”
Volunteers included a combination of men’s, women’s, and junior golf league members, scout troops, local birding groups, club members, golf course employees, community members from surrounding neighborhoods, entire families, school children, and other nature enthusiasts.
For most participants, BioBlitz is key to keeping a course’s admirable stewardship efforts front and center in their relationship with the surrounding community. At the University of Maryland Golf Course, it also adds a valuable educational dimension for students of all ages — and opens new avenues of school outreach.
“With this first event completed we are now developing ways to run smaller versions of the BioBlitz for our PGA kids and local high schools,” said Laura Russell, the university’s General Assistant. “We found it to be a fun activity with educational benefits and environmental value. This is just another way to be a leader among university golf courses, using the education resources of our faculty and students to improve the environment and strengthen community connection.”
Club + Resort Business reported in May 2018 that the university planted milkweed on the course to join the Monarchs in the Rough program.
Florida’s Harbour Ridge Yacht & Country Club enlisted a wide range of community members on their way to identifying an incredible 607 species on their course — the most of any BioBlitz participant.
Said Mary Hutchinson, 2023 BioBlitz Co-Coordinator, “Getting the word out early was important and done through different communication methods. We used direct e-mails to groups such as local birding groups as well as our members. We also prepared a BioBlitz pamphlet and scorecards based on Audubon International’s model and distributed hard copies at various locations around the community and in digital form online. We also targeted key individuals and naturalists who were knowledgeable with wildlife, plants, birds, reptile, mammals and the like. Our members had a blast participating in the 2023 BioBlitz and it helped to showcase the rich and diverse ecosystem that we all call our golf community home.”
In related news, Riverside Golf Course in Portland, Maine earned recertification as a “Cooperative Sanctuary” from Audubon International.
“Golf courses used to get a bad name. You know what I mean,” said Golf Course Superintendent Matt Teneyck. “‘They’re horrible for the environment.’ ‘All they do is fertilize and spray chemicals and everything like that.’ But, when we work together in harmony with nature, we can reach both ends of it.”
Teneyck took WCSH around the course, stopping near beehives placed in untamed grass to the right of the first fairway. He pointed out one of the 72 bird boxes on the sprawling property that contains a full 18-hole north course, a separate nine-hole south course, and a three-hole practice facility.
Riverside is one of six courses in Maine so far to earn the sanctuary title, first achieving it in 2020. Bangor Municipal Golf Course is the only other fully public facility on the list.
Frank Lavardera helps certify the courses every three years for Audubon, WCSH reported. He said worthy courses excel in six criteria, including water conservation and quality, wildlife habitat management, and education programs.
“We want people to see the golf course beyond a golf course and look at it more as a wildlife preserve, a green space,” Lavardera said.