Stewardship News A P u b l i c a t i o n o f A u d u b o n In t e rn a t i o n a l
Volume 14, Issue 2 • spring 2011
Protecting the Cahaba: First Phase of Grand River Nancy Richardson
udubon International has added another project to the growing list of those certified through the Audubon International Signature Program. The Shops at Grand River is only the first phase of a large, mixed-use project, but the eco-development principles of the Signature Program are already being applied at this unique outlet mall.
A Grand Idea Many people acquainted with the area of Birmingham, Alabama, characterize it as an industrial area where iron and steel are king. The Vulcan statue that stands on Red Mountain high above the city is the world’s largest cast iron statue and is considered one of the most memorable works of civic art in the United States. Yet, one must not miss the other ‘wonders’ in the Birmingham area, like a small town called Leeds and The Shops at Grand River. Situated along the Interstate 20 growth corridor between
Birmingham and Atlanta, Grand River is a 6,500-acre master-planned community that will feature residential neighborhoods with convenient shopping, entertainment, business, commerce, and world-class sporting and recreation. Nestled among lush parks and green spaces, Grand River is set against the picturesque landscape of the Cahaba River Valley. Historically an industrial area, underground mining in the Grand River area began in the early 1880s, and eight to ten underground mines exist
beneath the surface at varying depths and on different seams. All of these mines have been closed for decades. In their first step toward making this project an ecologically sustainable one, USS Real Estate, a division of United States Steel Corporation, the Daniel Corporation, and The Retirement Systems of Alabama formed a partnership with Audubon International by becoming the first community in Alabama to register in the Gold Signature Program. The Signature Program design approach is based on the concept that the most effective land plans integrate Best Management Practices during planning and design to effectively protect resources. Environmental issues are addressed before they become problems both in the short term and in the long term. In the educational Guide to Sustainability at The Shops of Grand River Contractor Edition, the project is described as “providing more than world-class shopping. The Shops will be maintained at the peak of efficiency providing a sanctuary for central continued on page 4
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Dear Members and Supporters, Spring is here! In our neck of the woods, we are looking forward to the Hudson River giving up its ice and a few good spring floods to wash away all traces of winter. Soon, the annual migration of birds, salamanders, and frogs will be in full swing, and the emergence of woodland wildflowers and the magnificent blossoming of leaves will set our world straight for another season. We know you are about to get busy too. Hence, a flurry of certification requests always arrives in our office in late-February and early March, before the weather warms and members turn their attention back outside (at least in most of the U.S.). Our spring is spent reading about the many environmental plans and accomplishments of members. It’s a good time of the year. We wish you all the best as your pursue environmental stewardship initiatives where you live, work, and play. Take time now to review your goals and project plans and don’t hesitate to contact our staff if you need additional educational information or guidance to set your plans in motion. Best,
Kevin A. Fletcher, Ph.D. Executive Director
46 Rarick Road Selkirk, New York 12158 (518) 767-9051 www.auduboninternational.org You can reach our staff via e-mail by typing the person’s first initial, full last name @ auduboninternational.org. Administration
Ronald Dodson, President Kevin Fletcher, PhD, Executive Director Mary Jack, Executive Assistant to the President Paula Realbuto, Executive Assistant for Operations Jessica DesLauriers, Development Manager Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Programs
Jennifer Batza, Membership Coordinator Jim Sluiter, Program Manager Joellen Lampman, Director
In this issue…
Audubon Signature Program
Protecting the Cahaba:
The Shops at Grand River become certified through Audubon International’s Signature Program.
Joshua Conway, Manager of Education and Communications
Nancy Richardson, Director Linda Snow, Administrative Assistant
Audubon Green Leaf Eco-Rating Program
Fred Realbuto, Director Sustainable Communities Program
Suzanne Zakowski, Manager
6 Tell Your Story with Pictures:
Audubon International members tell their stories through pictures. 9 Tear-Out Fact Sheet:
Monitoring Bird Nests with NestWatch 11 Seeing 20/20: How much water are you saving? Fifty-one percent of surveyed ACSP Golf members have reduced water costs. Learn more on page four.
Twenty points to keep in mind when planning your next sustainability project.
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Audubon International Takes Initiative In 2008, Audubon International launched a new strategy to affect change in four specific areas. Each of these Initiatives will provide a focus for our work in the years to come.
Community Engagement, Planning, and Action Read a new report from the ICMA that focuses on how to adapt smart growth strategies to rural communities and more! www.SustainableCommunity Initiative.com
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Having Email Trouble?
e have been noticing recently that emails from our staff are not making it to our program members. Please accept our apologies if you missed our invitation to the 20-Years of ACSP Celebration. Sometimes it is simply a matter of being automatically marked as “spam” or “junk” by your email program. If this is the case, there is a simple fix: find your email settings and add “auduboninternational.org” to your preferred senders list. If you don’t want to receive our newsletters, please don’t mark our emails as spam. At the end of each email is an unsubscribe link that you can use to indicate that you no longer want to receive our emails.
1. To check your settings in Outlook 2010 2. Click on the “Junk” button. 3. Next, click on “Junk Email Options,” and select the “Safe Senders” tab. 4. Add “auduboninternational.org” to the list. Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter. www.facebook.com/auduboninternational www.twitter.com/audubonintl
Environmental Stewardship and Management Do you like butterflies and moths? Are you a citizen scientist? Get involved today! www.EcoManagementInitiative.com
Eco-Design and Development With two newly certified members, the Audubon Classic program is growing Asia. www. EcoDevelopmentInitiative.com
Golf and the Environment The results are in: a recent survey shows that golf courses do make a difference. www.GolfandEnvironment.org
Tennessee State Parks Latest to Partner with Audubon International
udubon International is pleased to announce that the eleven golf courses that make up the Tennessee State Parks “Tennessee Golf Trail” are working to protect the natural environment through the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf Courses. Currently, eight have earned certification through the program. The Tennessee State Parks system is a part of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation and is the latest multi-course owner/operator to commit to 100% enrollment in the voluntary environmental education and certification program. “Audubon International’s focus on environmental education and promotion of more sustainable land management practices has been a perfect fit for the Tennessee Golf Trail,” states Jim Webb, Director of Golf for the Tennessee Golf Trail. “It’s good for the staff, the courses, and the state to have all our facilities enrolled in this program. We look forward to having all of our courses earn certification through the program. The natural beauty of each of our state’s golf courses is worth protecting, and Audubon International’s program helps us to do that.”
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Protecting the Cahaba:
Survey Shows Audubon International Golf Members Protect Water Resources
recent survey of members of the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf Courses (ACSP) reveals that voluntary environmental actions on golf courses are indeed leading to enhanced water quality management and water conservation. The survey of the 2,000-plus members of the ACSP was conducted in late 2010, with over 25% of the program members responding to the survey. “Many of our members expressed concern about water restrictions and regulations,” states ACSP Director, Joellen Lampman, “and appreciation that the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf Courses helps them promote their efforts and keep ahead of the issues.” Improvements made to water management practices as a result of ACSP involvement include the following: • Reducing Irrigated Acreage: 50% of respondents have removed irrigated turfgrass. An average of 18 acres of irrigated turfgrass per golf course was removed. • Improving Irrigation Systems: 68% have improved their irrigation system. • Enhancing runoff filtering: 89% have increased mowing heights along the water’s edge to slow and filter runoff. • Targeting fertilizer applications: 61% have increased the amount of acres where fertilizers are applied by spoon-feeding. • Reducing Risk: 91% have implemented primary and secondary spill containment systems within their maintenance facility. • Saving Money: 51% of respondents reduced water costs since joining the ACSP, with an additional 25% unsure as to whether there were savings or not (due to a lack of adequate information).
First Phase of Grand River Continued from page 1
Alabama plants and wildlife and a natural filter for cleaning storm water.”
Project Description The outlet mall, a centerpiece of the Grand River development, will eventually have 500,000 square feet of shops and restaurants. The Shops at Grand River began with 330,000 square feet and features tenants such as Tommy Hilfiger and Banana Republic. The outlet mall will be the equivalent size of ten football fields when complete. Locating the outlet mall near the Exit 140 interchange on Interstate 20 was important since more than 73,000 vehicles pass daily, many on their way to visit the other anchor stores at this exit including Bass Pro Shop and Barber Motorsports Park. The upper portion of the Cahaba River flows southwest downstream of Grand River and eventually into the Alabama River. The Cahaba River, the longest free-flowing river in Alabama, is considered one of Alabama’s “Ten Natural Wonders.” The diversity of the river’s fish population is greater than any other temperate river its size. Other parcels of land adjacent to the Cahaba River were deeded by U.S. Steel to the Freshwater Land Trust which acquires and manages lands to enhance water quality and preserve open space. One large parcel is near the south end and several parcels are near the north end of Grand River. These preserves are important to functionally connect with on-site preserves both for wildlife and humans. Based on this, development strategies were identified, evaluated, and implemented. The Eco-Design of the project, as established through Audubon International’s Signature Program, is to restore and maintain water quality, aquatic habitat, and upland habitat. Six specific goals were identified through Audubon International’s Ecological Design process: 1. Preserve, restore, maintain, and buffer the Cahaba River, the Kanetuck
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Branch, and its tributaries on the site. 2. Minimize stream crossings. 3. Use a Best Management Practice treatment train upstream of Kanetuck Branch to intercept and treat storm water on site and avoid downstream water quality conflicts. 4. Install littoral vegetation and upland vegetative buffers in and along created ponds to provide habitat. 5. Connect on-site habitat features to the surrounding existing forest matrix. 6. Slope stabilization—The native/ naturalized seed mix selected for The Shops project should accomplish both stabilization and provide a viable source of food for local wildlife.Installed with approximately two inches of compost material, germination occurred quickly.
Eco-Highlights of Phase One Through the Eco-Design, it was determined that the conservation value of Grand River lies in the great potential to preserve and restore the Kanetuck Branch watershed and to encourage continued growth of the mature, naturally diverse forest on the surrounding slopes and ridges that support the community. The site design protects the Cahaba River with an average 200-foot buffer. All topsoil was stripped, stored, and reapplied to the landscape and other green areas. Rock fill material was sorted and screened for use from gravel fill to the placement of native stone work for aesthetics.
Storm water from nearby parking lots is directed away from the river into bio-swales of native vegetation where it is filtered.
Managing water on the site is critical. Excess captured storm water is used for irrigating the landscaped spaces. All storm water flows into bio-swales and/or is piped away from the river around the entire site and into extended detention wetlands on the opposite side of the property. The wetlands include a fore bay, a path through planted aquatics, and then a check dam and finally a narrow, four-inch opening. This helps to extend the detention time and improve the water quality. The design included the creation of more than three acres of wetland habitat and uplands landscaped with native grasses, flowers, and trees. The landscaping palette of The Shops at Grand River consisted of native and naturalized plants with a high resistance to drought and low water irrigation. Small areas and planters had drop lines installed for irrigation. All site drainage including parking is directed to the wetlands. Rain gardens collecting runoff from buildings
and impervious surfaces have been built into the common areas of the mall. Numerous measures above and beyond standard practices were implemented with regard to site development and the Signature Program. For example, immense erosion control strategies were implemented throughout construction above and beyond standard practices. Mechanically stabilized earthen walls were built to maintain buffer zones to natural habitat. Natural buffers to adjacent property and the Cahaba River were maintained. Spanish-English booklets were created to facilitate education of construction personnel and tenants. Implementation of these and other practices started with the design documents and continued throughout the project.
Leadership in Leeds The development’s location near the banks of the Cahaba River made adopting standards such as those required through the Signature Program a necessity. “The river comes within 200 feet of where the grading was done in some places for this project,” according to Beth Stewart, Executive Director of the Cahaba River Society, “The work of Audubon International on the project was visible, particularly when it comes to environmental education throughout the process. We would love to see this replicated with other major construction projects.” Daniel Corporation officials said the mall will create the equivalent of 650 full-time jobs and have a $170 million net economic impact on Leeds and surrounding areas in the first 25 years. Around $32 million is expected to be generated for Leeds City Schools. Additional phases of the project, including a residential component, will evolve in the years to come. As they do, the ecodesign and development principles put into place with the outlet mall component will be carried throughout the project. Maintaining certification in Audubon International’s Signature Program will depend upon a dedication to continue to protect the river, the landscape, and the community of Leeds itself. l
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Tell Your Story with
Pictures Joellen Lampman
As the old adage goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. But the power of a picture is far greater than a thousand words. Pictures speak to the masses and are an excellent way to educate patrons and the general public about your environmental stewardship efforts. They do not, however, do you much good if they remain in your camera, on your computer, or in a box on a shelf in your office. Here are some examples of how Audubon International members have used photographs to tell their environmental story.
Scott Sutton, Superintendent at Wildhorse Golf Club in Henderson, NV, found that he had a great eye for photography. He had some of his better pictures printed on canvas through an online company and created a display in the clubhouse.
Educational posters can be displayed in locker rooms, eating areas, the maintenance facility, bulletin boards, kiosks, bathrooms, or anywhere else there is a free vertical space. Posters are a great way to generate interest in your stewardship efforts.
More permanent outdoor displays that are weather proofed can help introduce your environmental assets before patrons even enter the door. Outdoor displays show patrons you care about your property and want to show off your hard work.
Opportunities to tell your story digitally are expanding. Computers and DVD players can be attached to digital displays and run slide shows and PowerPoint presentations. Although the cost upfront can be daunting, a digital display is the most flexible display option. You can quickly and easily change the display at any time and see those changes instantly.
An educational brochure is an excellent way to inform people about your general efforts or specific projects. Brochures can be produced on a home or office computer with little expense. Brochures are a great project to enlist the help of a local conservation organization or a member of your Resource Advisory Group.
Always send your press release with good, high-quality photographs. They are much more likely to be picked up by the local media.
7 Using frames makes it easier to keep your display fresh with seasonal pictures. Your property is home to many natural resourcesâ€”let others know!
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You can also combine property photos with other posters and brochures to personalize any display.
Use your golf cart placard holder to share information about your efforts, wildlife, and plants on the golf course. You can even create a wildlife scavenger hunt for golfers as they tour the golf course.
Blogs are an excellent way to tell your story, especially if told with lots of pictures.
Many internet companies and software manufacturers have programs that help you put together a hard cover book of your best photos. These coffee table books can be placed in eating and gathering areas, used as gifts, or sold. Check out www.Blurb.com or do a keyword search for â€œcreate your own book,â€? to get started.
Fact Sheet E d u c at i o n a l
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Monitoring Bird Nests with NestWatch Jason Martin, Ph.D.
NestWatch Project Leader, Cornell Lab of Ornithology
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hether in a shrub, a tree, or a nest box, bird nests are all around us. Each spring and summer, thousands of volunteers across the country visit nests and report their findings to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s NestWatch project. NestWatchers keep track of how many eggs are laid and how many hatch. As young birds grow, participants collect valuable data on the nesting success and survival of birds. This information is submitted online to NestWatch, where it becomes part of a continually growing database that is used to monitor bird populations and to better understand complex nesting behaviors. NestWatch thereby extends nest monitoring efforts beyond the boundaries of individual properties by tying together nest observations collected across the country. NestWatch also is a valuable tool for organizing, storing, and summarizing your own nest records and offers lots of information about the breeding biology of common birds, how to properly monitor nests, and how to build and install nest boxes. NestWatch is free, easy, and rewarding! Please visit www.nestwatch.org and register your nests today.
Monitoring local bird populations is a fun and easy outreach and education project.
Tips for Constructing Nest Boxes Installing nest boxes is a great way to improve bird habitat on your property. Nest boxes are used by a wide variety of cavity-nesting birds, so the first step in building nest boxes is to decide which kinds of birds you would like to attract. Each species has a preferred box size and shape, entrance hole diameter, mounting height, and surrounding habitat. For example, bluebirds prefer small boxes located in open, grassy areas with 1 1/2” entrance holes, while wood ducks like larger boxes hanging over water with 3” entrance holes. Nest box designs for many species can be found on the NestWatch website. Regardless of the specific design, all nest boxes should include the following features:
Audubon International © 2011
• Untreated wood—Do not use treated wood when building nest boxes in order to avoid exposing birds to harmful chemicals.
• Extended, sloped roof—A slanted roof that extends over the front of the box will help protect nests from predators and weather
• Predator guard—This can be any barrier that prevents snakes, raccoons, squirrels, and other nest predators from accessing the nest.
• Access door hinged at bottom— This will allow you to safely peek inside the box without risking young birds tumbling out
• Proper drainage and ventilation— Holes drilled through the floor and holes or small gaps in the sidewalls just below the roof are keys to maintaining a good internal climate
• Sturdy closing mechanism on access door—This will ensure that predators will not be able to open it • Rough or grooved interior walls— This will help young birds climb out
• No perches—Birds that nest in boxes do not need them and predators may use perches to help access boxes
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Excluding House Sparrows and European Starlings These species are non-native and are not protected under federal law. They often take over nest boxes intended for other species. To prevent these birds from using your boxes: • Use appropriate bird seed—If feeding birds, avoid millet, cracked corn, and bread, which may attract House Sparrows and Starlings. • Place boxes away from buildings— House Sparrows and Starlings are associated with human activity. • Monofilament line—Stringing fishing line from the front corners of the roof to the bottom corners of the box may deter sparrows. • Remove their nests—Doing this early and often may cause House Sparrows and Starlings to move on. • Trapping—Never leave traps unattended to avoid harming native species. • Temporarily plug entrance or remove nest box—It may be better to have no box, than one used by House Sparrows or Starlings.
How to Monitor Nests Because NestWatch compiles observations from thousands of individuals, it is extremely important that everyone follows the same monitoring protocol so that data will be comparable and the well-being of the birds is ensured. To monitor nest: 1. Create a free account and register your nest boxes at www.nestwatch.org—It is especially important to accurately record the coordinates of each nest, and please use “Audubon International” for your Organization/Company if you are a member. 2. Search for nests or install nest boxes—Adult birds carrying bits of grass or sticks, and repeatedly returning to the same location are good clues to help find nests. 3. Count eggs and young in each nest every 4-5 days—Frequent visits are necessary to accurately track the progression of nests.
Check for and count eggs every four to five days, but do not touch the eggs or young birds. It is best to check the nests in mid-afternoon when it is not raining.
• Do not touch eggs or young birds—They are very fragile and can easily be harmed. • Check nests during mid-afternoon—This minimizes the risk of disturbing egg laying or feeding activities. • Avoid nests during the first few days of incubation—Adults are much more likely to abandon nests if disturbed during this period.
When selecting nest boxes to install, choose a box made from untreated wood with extended sloped roof and proper drainage and ventilation.
• Do not check nests during cold or rainy weather—Eggs and young birds can quickly become dangerously chilled. • Do not approach nests when young are close to fledging—You may cause them to leave the nest prematurely. • Be wary of nest predators—Check nests another time if cats, crows, blue jays, or other potential predators are watching. • Minimize nest disturbance—Avoid damaging or trampling vegetation, or leaving dead-end trails leading to nests because these can help predators find nests. • Shorter is better—Make each nest visit as short as possible to minimize disturbance. • Enter data on NestWatch website— This includes the number of eggs and young present during each check, as well as total numbers of eggs laid, eggs hatched, and young fledged for each nest. • View your data—Download descriptions of your nest sites, summaries of individual nesting attempts, and your nesting data summarized by species. • Discover your sense of place— Explore NestWatch project-wide data by downloading summaries and viewing interactive maps to see how your observations fit in.
For more information, please visit www.nestwatch.org.
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Seeing 20/20: A guide to your next stewardship project Photo by Rob Shaffer
Kevin Fletcher, Ph.D.
o you have finished your first environmental stewardship project and want to do more. Or maybe you have an idea for a project but are unsure of how to get started. Either way it’s easy to become discouraged by the obstacles that stand between you and the success of your project. What follows are twenty points to keep in mind when planning for your next sustainability project. 1. Overcome the Limits of Your Mind— Often times we let minor limitations like the difficulty or cost of a project stand in the way. Commit yourself to think outside the box and you can find a solution that will work and be cost effective. Environmental stewardship is not a one-size-fits-all approach. 2. Remember Voltaire—The famous philosopher summed up environmental action well when he said “the perfect is the enemy of the good.” Don’t let an expectation of perfection leave you taking no action at all. Just do some good.
15. Celebrate Short-term Success—After you take your big plan and break it into little pieces, and you complete a part of the plan, have a party. Celebrating along the way keeps people interested in your project.
9. Ask for Help—In our experience, the best member projects and results happen with a rich and active Resource Advisory Group—a team of local experts who volunteer to help with your sustainability efforts.
16. Replicate Models—Once you’ve completed your project—from an energy efficiency conversion project to installation of a naturalized area—focus on outreach and education to others. Help to make your model project something that others will want to do too.
10. Remember to Play—When your Resource Advisory Team gets together, remember to give them food, drinks, and share some laughs. Environmental stewardship isn’t all serious business.
3. Get to Know Yourself—The first step of any environmental project or sustainability initiative is self-assessment. Determine where you are now (strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities) before you chart a path for improvement.
11. Measure Results—Establish a measurement system as a part of your plan and stick to it. We manage what we measure, as the old business axiom states. This is especially true when monitoring environmental improvements and results.
4. Appreciate Your Sense of Place—No matter how many members we work with, it’s amazing how often it takes an “outsider” to remind people of the special features of their homes, properties, and communities. Find out what makes your place unique and protect it.
12. Communicate Results—If you have good measures (i.e., facts, data, numbers), then communicating them is fun. Tell your story. Be proud.
5. Ask Around—Instead of re-inventing the wheel, try and find a model for your stewardship project. Asking colleagues, searching the internet, or calling our office are all great ways to get ideas or advice for your project.
13. Uncover the Business Value—A lot of the actions you take to protect the environment also save money and can improve your image. 14. Power in Partnering—Reach out to your local Chamber of Commerce, the local Audubon group, or schools and colleges. Invite others to work with you on your project. You’ll be surprised what new friends you can make.
Photo by Rob Shaffer
6. Roadmap Success—To borrow from “The A-Team,” with a self-assessment in hand, craft a plan of action to go from where you are now, to where you want to be. 7. Think Big, But Start Small—One of the biggest hurdles for seeing a sustainability project to completion is failing to break a big project into bite-sized pieces. As Loa-Tzu said: “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”
8. Be Systematic—Take a Plan-Do-CheckAct approach to your project. A basic environmental management system approach creates a plan, allows you to stick to that plan, evaluates the results, and improves the plan.
17. Align People and Practices—Make sure you provide your staff with adequate training and incentives to bring the project to completion or to change their behavior to reflect your new dedication to the environment. 18. Gain Upper Management Support— One of the best ways to sustain any environmental improvement project is to make sure the whole team, but especially, decision-makers at the top of the organization, are on-board. Get them excited about the potential environmental, economic, and public relations results up-front. 19. Pilot-test—If you have a hard time getting upper management support, pilot-test a smaller version of your project. Test it out, get results, and then use those results to persuade leadership to take even bigger steps. 20. Share Challenges and Successes—Do more than just tell your story. Talk about what you did to everyone. Get people excited and help them to see that they can make a difference too. Then be there to help. Mentoring is a great way to take your environmental stewardship to the next level.
Audubon International publishes Stewardship News four times a year. Inquiries, contributions, or letters to the editor should be addressed to:
Audubon International Named Founding Member
Joshua Conway, Editor Audubon International 46 Rarick Road Selkirk, NY 12158
The Stewardship Action Council (SAC) is a multistakeholder organization dedicated to promoting and improving sustainable and socially responsible business practices, providing a space where cross-functional collaboration can take place, and developing a performance-based sustainability index. Audubon International is proud to be named a founding member. As a coalition of industry, academia, the investment community, and governmental and non-governmental organizations, SAC will focus on generating solutions to the sustainability challenges that each group is facing. “Our help in establishing the SAC and working with its growing list of members is a natural fit for us,” according to Audubon International’s Executive Director Kevin A. Fletcher, Ph.D. “Bringing nonprofit, private, and public entities together to better protect the natural environment is a critical step on the path to a more sustainable world.”
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Audubon International is a non-profit environmental organization dedicated to fostering more sustainable human and natural communities through research, education, and conservation assistance. Programs seek to educate, assist, and inspire millions of people from all walks of life to protect and sustain the land, water, wildlife, and natural resources around them. Funding is provided by memberships, donations, and program sponsorship. The ACSP Golf Program is sponsored by The United States Golf Association. The newsletter is printed on recycled paper.
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