The public Charlotte, N.C., property earned the distinction from the National Wildlife Federation for providing wildlife with food, water, shelter, and a place to raise their young. Deer, coyotes, river otters, beavers, squirrels, raccoons, opossums, a variety of reptiles and amphibians, and at least 48 species of birds call the 200-acre golf course home.
The public Golf Club at Ballantyne in Charlotte, N.C., recently became a certified wildlife habitat, a distinction given by the National Wildlife Federation to residences, businesses, and even cities and towns that provide wildlife the four necessities of life: food, water, shelter and a place to raise their young, the Charlotte Observer reported.
The club is one of only a handful of courses in the state to earn the certification. The course’s first assistant superintendent, Erik Kennelly, said it’s always been the practice of the club to be as hospitable to wildlife as possible, the Observer reported.
“We try to strike a balance between making this an inviting place for golfers while keeping it friendly for all the wildlife here. Sure, we use some chemicals because we are a golf course. But we try to be as minimally invasive as possible,” Kennelly said.
While the offices and businesses of Ballantyne surround the course, plenty of wildlife calls the 200-acre course its home. Kennelly said deer, coyotes, river otters, beavers, squirrels, raccoons, opossums, and a variety of reptiles and amphibians have been spotted there. He also said he has identified 48 species of birds on the course, and he believes there are even more, the Observer reported.
Matthews resident Carol Buie-Jackson, chairwoman of the North Carolina Wildlife Federation, said the club is setting a great example.
“I love that it’s raising awareness for the need for wildlife habitat, especially since most golf courses use many chemicals to stay green Hopefully this will demonstrate that golf courses and wildlife can peacefully co-exist,” said Buie-Jackson.
In addition to providing shelter for wildlife on their grounds, the club also wants to offer wildlife education so others can appreciate and help preserve nature. Several years ago Bissell, developer of Ballantyne, constructed an outdoor amphitheater at the edge of the course. Kennelly is currently working with Matthews resident Debbie Foster—a founding member of HAWK, Central Carolina’s Master Naturalist and a habitat steward with the National Wildlife Federation—to offer outdoor classes, the Observer reported.
“This place has tremendous potential for citizen science projects, like the Audubon brown-headed nuthatch project that’s already in place here. The club has beautiful wetlands, mature trees, a variety of habitats for birds and an outdoor classroom. It’s so exciting,” Foster said.
Bissell’s chairman, Smoky Bissell, said he wouldn’t have it any other way, the Observer reported.
“The environment has always been important to us,” Bissell said. “We are committed to responsible development, and in everything we do we strive to make the area better than we found it. We are pleased with our progress to date, and we welcome suggestions from all sources to make what we do tomorrow better than what we have done thus far.”
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