Golf courses often draw fire for environmental damage from pesticides and fertilizers, but the Wilderness Golf Course at Fortune Bay of the Bois Forte Chippewa has shown itself once again to be an exception.
Audubon International has renewed Fortune Bay’s designation as a Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary under the conservation group’s Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf Courses because of its assiduous environmental standards.
"The Wilderness Golf Course at Fortune Bay has shown a strong commitment to its environmental program,” said Audubon International Executive Director Doug Bechtel in a statement. “They are to be commended for preserving the natural heritage of the area by protecting the local watershed and providing a sanctuary for wildlife on the golf course property.”
Audubon International started this program in 1991 in conjunction with the U.S. Golf Association to combat and mitigate golf courses’ environmental impact, which are myriad.
“From ground water pollution caused by fertilizers and pesticides to loss of natural habitats and wetlands, the concerns are great,” the Rutgers Professional Golf Turf Management School’s website on Golf Courses and the Environment states.
One of 893 courses certified under the program worldwide, Fortune Bay has held the status since 2005, Audubon International said in a statement. Fortune Bay is in good company, with golf courses from the United States, Africa, Australia, Canada, Central America, Europe, Mexico and Southeast Asia that have been certified under this program.
Fortune Bay is already widely recognized, having been rated highly by both Golf Digest and Golfweek, among other organizations of the sport.
Audubon International will also recognize the leader of the effort to retain the designation, Certified Golf Course Superintendent Vincent Dodge, for Environmental Stewardship.
The sanctuary program helps inform and guide golf course operators in efforts to preserve and enhance wildlife habitat as well as protect natural resources, Audubon International said.
"To reach certification, a course must demonstrate that they are maintaining a high degree of environmental quality in a number of areas," Bechtel said.
Among the key areas are environmental planning, wildlife and habitat management, outreach and education, chemical use reduction and safety, water conservation and water quality management. The certification term is two years.
Below, a short explanation of Fortune Bay’s philosophy and a bit about its modus operandi.