Stewardship News | Volume 18, Issue 2 | Spring 2015

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StewardshipNews Audubon International’s

Volume 18, Issue 2

The Winners of BioBlitz 2015 | 4

Spring 2015

Indian River Club Celebrates 20 Years | 14

Sustainability in Aruba | 8

Going Green in the Desert | 10 1

Doug, Fred, and Tara do some spring cleaning at Hollyhock Hollow Santuary in Selkirk, NY on Earth Day 2015.

Message from the Executive Director:

Every Day is Earth Day


s spring finally blooms here in New York, I am thinking about the significance of the earth in Earth Day. Earth Day was started in the US after peace activist John McConnell suggested the idea in 1969. In 1990, Denis Hayes, who launched and organized the first US Earth Day in 1970, helped 141 nations recognize the event as well. Earth Day has also spawned spin-offs: Earth Week, Earth Month, and Every Day is Earth Day for a [insert career path here]. BIOBLITZ This year, we launched a new idea: Global Golf BioBlitz. Thanks to funding from USGA, we developed tools to help golf courses celebrate Earth Week by inviting members, naturalists, families, and local residents to visit golf courses and count species. The idea of a BioBlitz is not new; many parks and nature areas do something similar as a fun way to rapidly assess the biodiversity on a property. We weren’t sure if golf course staff would be interested, but 129 courses, including 12 international courses and seven golf courses not in our program, signed up. While all of the data is not yet in, early reports suggest that participants had a great time, by inviting golfers, naturalists, and families to inventory wildlife and “botanize”! BioBlitz is a great example of how we are helping our members understand the ecology of their land, while also dispelling myths and encouraging neighbors and local residents to see the habitat and green space value courses can provide in their towns. Enthusiasm about next year’s event is already brewing. Stay tuned to learn who wins this year’s prizes!

Cover photo: Rio Verde in Arizona


HOW MANY COUNTRIES HAVE YOU VISITED? But to additionally mangle the popular phrase, every day is Earth Day at Audubon International. Why, you ask? While our membership in the US has been steady in past years, our international presence is growing fast. Audubon International has touched down in over 30 countries, representing North & Central America, Asia, Africa, and Europe. And the trend of our international work is growing. While our membership growth continues everywhere, 23% of newly certified members in the past year are international members, up from 15% since 2010. Our most recent certified member is Cedar Brae Golf and Country Club in Scarborough, Ontario. Next time you are out playing in your yard, on the trail, or on the links, think about how many species call your recreation space home. Make it a point to remember more than the number of shots on your scorecard. How many birds did you see or hear? Remember that your favorite green space filters water and provides habitat. Make your next day out an Earth Day to remember.


Doug Bechtel, Executive Director


Doug Bechtel


Joe Madeira

Contents Stewardship News Volume 18, Issue 2 Spring 2015


Joanna Nadeau


BioBlitz 2015 | 4 The results from the week-long event are in!

Tara Pepperman


Fred Realbuto

Earth Day 2015 at Hollyhock Hollow Sanctuary | 7 Audubon International staff pitches in with trail clean up


Aruba: An Island with a Goal of Sustainability | 8

Nancy Richardson

The Caribbean Island is working toward a lower environmental impact



Featured Photos | 9 Great photos sent in by members

For These Desert-Dwellers, It’s Easy Being Green | 10 Rio Verde, Arizona receives certification from Audubon International

Farewells | 12 Audubon International says goodbye to board members and staff

120 Defreest Drive Troy, New York 12180 518-767-9051

Indian River Club Celebrates 20 Years of Certification | 14 The Texas community has become a model for environmental planning

You can reach our staff via email using each person’s first name followed by

Audubon International Announces New Conservation Services for Private Landowners Audubon International Announces New Conservation Services for Private Landowners


“BioBlitz was a blast.”


Bobby Jaeger, Superintendent | Lake Tahoe Golf Course, Nevada

The first ever Global Golf Course BioBlitz was a great success. During the week of Earth Day, April 19-25, golf courses from around the country celebrated the week by taking part in an event organized by Audubon International and sponsored in part by the United States Golf Association. The event was open to any golf course worldwide—including those unaffiliated with Audubon International.

What is a BioBlitz? BioBlitz is a species counting competition designed to create awareness among participants (in our case, golfers and the golfing community) about habitats and species that live on golf courses. The program was flexible enough to include anyone interested in spending time outside on a course learning about natural LEFT: A sandhill crane becomes curious at Okeeheelee Golf Course in Florida. RIGHT: Ironwood Golf Course in Florida is fully prepped for BioBlitz.

history. It also allowed a facility to invite the various constituents that interact with a golf course, including members, staff, families, community participants or in some cases, students from a nearby school. We created a tool that golf course staff used to educate and demonstrate participants; some courses had a single Blitzer, while others had dozens. All of them had fun! The flexibility made it successful, as we saw a range of participants, hours, and depth of investigation. The idea of a BioBlitz is not new. Many BioBlitz events have occurred to rapidly count species on a property (usually a park or preserve) as a way to develop a species inventory while having fun in a slightly competitive,


citizen-friendly event. Audubon International organized a bird blitz several years ago, but this year we decided that counting all species can be even more revealing about golf course habitat. After registering for the program, we sent everyone the 2015 BioBlitz toolkit, including rules, instructions, posters that announced the event, sign-up sheets, a certificate to recognize winners, and a press release to distribute to local media. This year, golf courses invited a number of participants such as golfers and their families, local environmental organizations, youth groups, community members, and local experts to count plant and animal species located on the property. Courses were vying for three awards: the course that counts the most species, the course with most participants, and the course that submits the best photo. Over the past few weeks, our staff has received submissions from all the participants and compiled the lists of plant and animal species recorded.

By the Numbers


golf courses from Quebec to Nevada and Hawaii to Florida represented biomes from all around North America



unique species

recorded that call these golf courses home


took part in recording species during the week


plants & fungi species



wildlife species

total species encounters

Feedback from the Superintendents Ecologists, landscapers, staff, golfers, families, and local citizens joined in to help, lending their volunteer time and expertise to record landscape plants, indigenous plants, and native wildlife. At Lake Tahoe Golf Course in Nevada, golf courses superintendent Bobby Jaeger embraced the event and used it to engage the community and raise money for education. “We’re going to make this a yearly event for our annual Local’s Day. We were happy to raise $1200 to go towards local kids learning about sustainability. Kids from Sierra House that participated in the BioBlitz also planted 30 Sugar Pines in a native restoration area on the golf course. Thank you again for offering this. I am looking forward to our site visit next month and our re-certification. We are doing a lot of great things out here,” said Jaeger. As we imagined, a BioBlitz can really help open people’s eyes and promote understanding. Audubon International has always maintained that golf courses can provide excellent habitat, but not everyone pays attention to ALL the life that can be supported. Jim Schell, General Manager at the Venice Golf and Country


Club in Florida, summed it up nicely, “The biggest surprise for me is that most life is so small. I have always been accustomed to looking up at the trees and the colorful foliage of plants, not at the smallest of creatures. I had no idea we had so much diverse life on this property. Even the birds escaped my untrained eye. Sure I saw the blue herons and wading birds, but I did not see the others until they were pointed out to me. We focused our efforts on life that was observed from the golf course property. Everything listed here…although I am certain we missed more than we recorded.”

And the Winners Are...

Award for Most Species Recorded Venice Golf and Country Club in Venice, FL with 588 unique species Superintendent: Carlos Arraya | BioBlitz Coordinators: Kate Borduas & Jim Schell

Award for Most Participants Southwinds Golf Course in Boca Raton, FL with 49 participants Superintendent: Peter Arvanitis | BioBlitz Coordinator: Stephanie Klotzer

Thanks to all who made this such a success! Stay tuned for next year!

Award for Best Photos It’s a tie!

Stonebridge Country Club in Naples, FL

Mohegan Sun Golf Club in Baltic, CT

Red-bellied Woodpecker


Photographer: Peter Low

Photographer: Matt Andrew


Earth Day 2015 at Hollyhock Hollow Sanctuary

By Doug Bechtel


forest wildflowers (aka “spring ephemerals”) might be late—the soil and air temperatures were just a little low!

The morning of Earth Day 2015 (April 22) was warm and humid with still a hint of winter’s chill and the threat of rain. Volunteers from Appalachian Mountain Club and Audubon Society of the Capital Region (a chapter of the National Audubon Society) arrived at 8am. We unloaded our rakes, clippers, handsaws, and water bottles, leaned them against the nearest tree, and hit the trails with binoculars and nature guides. Fun first—work second!

No matter, about 12 of us headed into the woods. And… sure enough, our species inventory was a little thin this year. Normally about this time we would expect the spring ephemerals, flying insects, and songbirds to be more active. We heard or saw 14 wildlife species (mostly common urban and yearround birds), and about 13 spring wildflowers, most of which were just starting to bloom. Not bad all things considered! We learned a lot about forest history, wildlife habitat, and the future of our woods. This is just one data point in the many years of AI’s past and future ownership, during which time the forest will mature and develop under the most careful and capricious natural resource manager of all: Mother Nature.

eady to ante-up for Earth Day? I’ll see your ONE Appalachian Mountain Club and raise you with TWO Audubons! OK, so our staff didn’t play organizational poker on Earth Day, but we did combine resources with area environmental organizations and met at Hollyhock Hollow Sanctuary for a fun day of nature education and beautification.

For about 10 years I have been leading Earth Day bird walks. This was my first at Hollyhock Hollow, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. The forest and edge habitats are ideal for many bird and plant species, but the late onset of spring made me nervous that we wouldn’t see the neo-tropical migrants yet. Years like this, the warblers, thrushes and other songbirds that nest in forested habitats arrive late, and/or stay quiet for a while, making them much harder to observe. Similarly, the spring bloom of

And then we raked. And raked. And clipped branches and hauled fallen leaves and dragged dead wood, and raked some more. The lawns and gardens around the preserve entrance are now much cleaner thanks to these intrepid volunteers. Thanks to all who contributed in the true spirit of partnership and Earth Day. It was the perfect combination of environmental education and partnership outreach. Thanks folks! See you next year!


Aruba An Island with a Goal of Sustainability By Fred Realbuto


ver the last six years, in my role managing Audubon International’s Green Lodging Program, I have visited hundreds of inns, bed-and-breakfast, hotels, and resorts throughout the world, from the Hawaiian Islands to Palm Desert California to historic Boston to the bustle of the Big Apple. I’ve experienced the charm of Hilton Head Island and the captivating beauty of southern Florida. With all these site visits, I have had the opportunity to relish and contemplate the uniqueness of each destination. My latest trip took me to the beautiful Island nation of Aruba, a former colony of the Dutch and one of the ABC islands of Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao. This Dutch Caribbean island has taken major steps in its effort to lead the world in carbon footprint reductions and to be an international example for sustainability. Its long term sustainability plan aims to become 100 percent free of fossil fuels by 2020. The purpose of my visit to this sustainable island was to provide site visit verification of two Marriott


Vacation Clubs: Marriott’s Aruba Ocean Club and Marriott’s Aruba Surf Club. Both are located on the northwestern part of the island known as Palm Coast, and both are enrolled in Audubon International’s Green Lodging Program. The trip turned out to be so much more of an experience than I had ever imagined. Had it not been for my host on the island, Marciano Geerman, this trip would have been business as usual. However, Marciano made sure that was not the case. He was an amazing host and tourguide. His official title is Chief Engineer at the Marriott Surf Club, but his true designation was Ambassador of Aruba. Marciano is a native Aruban. He is one of five children of a parttime carpenter/full-time fisherman father. As an accomplished sailor, Marciano served the queen of Netherlands in the Dutch Navy and later served the Prime Minister of Aruba. He has captained ships from Africa to the Caribbean and across the Atlantic to ports-of-call in the US as well as Panama.

Marciano, not only an accomplished sailor and engineer, has an innate understanding of the concept of sustainability and the special fragility that an island nation faces. He made it his mission to share not only what the Marriott is doing, but to show me firsthand the efforts that Aruba has undertaken as a country to become more sustainable. Some of these efforts are truly remarkable. In anticipation of my arrival he scheduled visits to the desalinization plant, the electrical generation facility, and the gasification plant. As a result I was able to see firsthand where every drop of drinking water in the country is produced, almost every kilowatt of energy is produced, and a groundbreaking gasification plant that is taking solid waste out of the landfill and creating a methanol-like product that is then used 100% to operate turbines creating electricity for the island. Seeing these facilities were an amazing highlight of my trip and demonstrated a country embracing the idea of sustainability. The prime minister of Aruba has committed to a 2020 plan whereby the nation is free of fossil fuel dependence completely by the year 2020. This is a lofty goal and may not become a reality but they are nonetheless striving to make it so. In addition, this year Aruba’s government signed a contract with the local utility service company ELMAR NV to convert all of the island’s public-road lighting to energy-efficient, light-emitting diodes (LED) by 2017, which will reduce energy consumption and lower maintenance costs.

Featured Phot s

Cedar Brae Golf and Country Club A deer pauses after crossing a stream at Cedar Brae Golf and Country Club in Scarborough, Ontario.

If they are able to, they will become a model for island nations throughout the world. The gasification plant is already generating intense interest from all around the globe. Audubon International hopes to work with not only the Marriott but other resorts on Aruba and with the Aruban government itself to assist them in realizing their environmental goals now and in the future. This trip, in no small way, may very well pave a path in forging new relationships and amazing opportunity. As Marciano taught me, Papimento “Ayoo” for now...and much more to come!

Aliso Viejo Country Club A killdeer guards its eggs at Aliso Viejo Country Club in Aliso Viejo, California. Share your photos! If you would like to see your photos featured here or on our Facebook page, e-mail them to


For These Desert-Dwellers, It’s Easy Being




efore ever setting foot in the community, I knew from talking with residents at Rio Verde that they were committed to the natural environment and planning for sustainability. And yet, my April visit to learn more about their projects first-hand gave me added confidence in designating Rio Verde as Audubon International’s fifth Certified Sustainable Community. The certification represents years of hard work—broken up into seasons—by Rio Verde residents and staff. Because the majority of residents take time away from Arizona over the summer, it takes longer to get things done. AI staff travels to all communities pursuing certification in the Sustainable Communities Program in order to verify that projects and practices are in place as reported. These photos give a glimpse of what this community has achieved. Over the past few years, Rio Verde has worked hard to address their sustainability challenges, such as the need for water and energy conservation on private properties and in common areas. In response to the Sustainable Communities Program requirements, the Rio Verde Community Association (RVCA) has established


Rio Verde is a close-knit, enthusiastic community that values its unique natural setting.

When surveyed, residents listed trail access as one of the top assets that drew them to Rio Verde. The community is bounded by several mountain ranges of central Arizona, with spectacular desert views and miles of hiking and biking trails for exploring in Tonto National Forest and McDowell Mountain Park.

institutional structures such as a resident-driven long term sustainability plan and guidelines for green landscaping and construction. In the last year, the RVCA and Country Club are replacing 15 acres of turf (that previously needed regular irrigation and maintenance) with native, drought-tolerant vegetation. Visiting Rio Verde gave me a chance to understand this community on a deeper level. While their latest innovations to make the community more sustainable were motivated by working towards Audubon International certification, this community has been closely connected to nature since its development 40 years ago. When Rio Verde residents heard about Audubon International’s Sustainable Communities Program, they joined because they knew the designation fit perfectly with the community’s values and identity. But certification is only the beginning. For recertification, the community will work on measuring performance indicators of health, economic, and environmental outcomes to determine whether their chosen strategies are truly achieving their sustainability goals. They will communicate with prospective residents about these goals to draw in the next generation of community members who love this place and want to continue the Rio Verde tradition of preserving all that makes this a great place to live. Here at Audubon International, we celebrate communities like Rio Verde who do the hard work to be greener, more sustainable, and to live in closer harmony with nature. Thanks, Rio Verde, for being a model for a sustainable way of life.

Top to Bottom: The Men’s Golf Association holds its spring tournament, one of many regular fitness and leisure events held in the community; The community abuts the Verde River, one of the last flowing rivers in the state, which greatly enhances their farm and their avifauna (birdlife), such as this roadrunner; Moore Gardens, a local farm run by Robby Davis, offers produce to Rio Verde residents; The community’s wastewater goes into a treatment system that produces effluent, used as a water supply for the golf course, reducing their reliance on groundwater supplies; Jan Strand helped create this demonstration garden that provides habitat for butterflies and hummingbirds and information about native plants.


Farewells Jay Jaxon, Jr., Board Member By Doug Bechtel Please join us in saying thank you and farewell to Jay Jaxon, Jr., who is ending his tenure on the Audubon International Board of Directors after more than 10 years. Jay served five terms as mayor of Eufaula, Alabama which became the nation’s first Audubon International Certified Sustainable Community in 2002 under his leadership. Jay’s greatest legacy, both on the Board and as Mayor, is his commitment to empowering others to build a better future. Jay continues as President of JJ Jaxon Co., Inc., a highly respected producer and distributor of commemorative artwork and monuments. He reflected, “I have truly enjoyed my relationship with AI and have learned a great deal from that involvement. The organization is in good shape to move forward and truly make a difference. I am very confident in the current Board and Staff to accomplish our mission.” All of us at Audubon International will truly miss his wisdom, positive spirit, and Southern charm.

Tim Hiers, Board Member By Nancy Richardson After nearly five years as a member of the Audubon International Board of Directors, Tim Hiers is stepping down as of June 14. A forty-year veteran of the golf industry, Tim’s list of awards is long and distinguished and includes the GCSAA President’s Environmental Leadership Award, the first John James Audubon Environmental Steward Award, and the GCSAA Excellence in Government Relations Award.


Tim brought to the board significant experience in golf, and experience working with Audubon International programs. His accomplishments include assisting Collier’s Reserve Country Club to become the first Audubon International Certified Signature golf course in the world, and leading The Old Collier Golf Club to achieve the designation of first Audubon International Gold Signature Sanctuary. His belief that a healthy, well-maintained golf course can be cost efficient by both reducing pesticide usage and conserving water led him to pioneer the use of paspalum turfgrass at Old Collier. This made Old Collier the first course in the world to irrigate exclusively with brackish water, an extraordinary step toward conserving potable water world-wide.

Reflecting upon his years with the Audubon International Board, Tim says, “Serving on the AI Board was extremely meaningful and productive. The board members were talented and experienced in a variety of disciplines and put the needs of Audubon International ahead of any self-motives. I will always count my experience on the board as a priceless opportunity to serve and learn more about God’s creation.” AI has been extremely fortunate to have had Tim’s knowledge and leadership during his tenure with the board. He is an agronomic expert, mediator, bottomline negotiator, nature-enthusiast, spell-binding speaker, a student always willing to learn from others,

a frugal manager, and above all, a real gentleman. He is at home in the board room, on the golf course, and in the classroom. Although he is stepping down from his role on the board, he will continue to support Audubon International in other ways as he takes on his new role as Director of Agronomy at the Club at Mediterra (a Certified Silver Signature Sanctuary in Naples) during a major renovation of 36 holes there. We wish Tim success in his new adventure and are always willing to listen to his sage words of advice.

Katie Hopkins, Director of Communications By Doug Bechtel We sadly, but fondly, bid farewell to one of our own this spring. Katie Hopkins, our director of communications, recently took a job with Abercrombie & Kent, a company that provides exclusive ecotourism and adventure travel services, based in Chicago. Katie is the program manager for Abercrombie & Kent Philanthropy, the company’s nonprofit venture, which provides conservation support and charitable activities in the locations where they arrange trips. In many ways, this is the perfect opportunity for Katie. It combines her love of the touring and lodging industry with environmental and social charitable support. Here’s what we all know and love about Katie. She is a bona fide environmentalist. She turned off her lights. She did our recycling. She pushed us to make our own business and behaviors greener. She led by example, quietly and with steady conviction. Here’s another thing we love about Katie. She is calm, efficient, hard-working, and driven by a simple and deep philosophy that our actions do make a difference. She is loaded with integrity! I only

wish she gave me the chance to provide her a job reference. During her two-year tenure at Audubon International, Katie took on projects and made a significant impact. She spearheaded the reformatting, and revitalization of the website— adding powerful graphics, moving stories, and a newsfeed that kept it looking fresh and current. Katie also built a major following on all our social networks. She overhauled our Stewardship News, and turned the publication from a two-color simple newsletter into a full color, large format, e-magazine. Her work to improve the Green Lodging program made an impact, and she secured amazing partners like and Clean the World. To say that Katie left her mark on Audubon International is an understatement. She transformed its look and feel. In true Katie fashion of helping where she can, she has offered to help us with a few major projects as we adjust to her absence. She continues to demonstrate and act on her commitment to our work and mission. We will miss you Katie! You are Bona Fide!



Celebrates years


Indian River Club

of Certification

By Nancy Richardson


ecently, Indian River Club (IRC) in Vero Beach, Florida hosted a reception to celebrate and mark the occasion of their twentieth year of Audubon International Signature Certification. I was on hand to administer a recertification site review and to present IRC with the Twenty Years of Signature achievement plaque. IRC is only the second Signature Program member in the world to reach this status. When it opened twenty years ago, Indian River Club became only the third golf course in the world to achieve designation as a Certified Signature Sanctuary. Although changes have occurred over these past twenty years, the commitment and dedication of residents, staff and management have remained true. One of those changes occurred in 2008 when the turnover of ownership from Jeff Reynolds to the IRC residents became effective. The golf course has been leased back to Jeff and will continue to operate as it has since opening. One condition on the lease is that Jeff must maintain the Audubon International Signature Certification. That shouldn’t be a problem since back in 1994 when Indian River Club joined the Audubon International Signature Program, it was the idea of



Jeff Reynolds, owner as well as developer of IRC, to enroll both the golf course and the residential project as members of the Signature Program. At that time, it was pretty far outside the box to think of working with an environmental organization and to allow them to help guide design of such a high profile project as Indian River Club was proposed to be.

Why Is Design Important? Twenty years is a long time, so I want to step back a bit to tell you about the property itself. To put the 300 acre community in context, it is located at the very southern end of Vero Beach centered on the Treasure Coast and less than a mile from the spectacular Indian River Lagoon. The western quarter of the golf course contained the largest stand of longleaf pines in the developed corridor of Indian River County and featured a North Carolina look with beautiful

preserved stands of old-growth pines. The midsection had an aura of ‘Old Florida’ with white sugar sand, large clear lakes and marshes, and the eastern quarter had hammocks of old oaks and towering sand pines and was one of the last undeveloped sections of the Atlantic Coastal Ridge. Golf holes #5 and #6 now play along that ancient coastal sand dune with elevations up to 48 feet and includes the rare coastal scrub jay habitat. In short, the site presented a slice through four distinct habitats that reflected Indian River County’s pre-development landscape. So from the beginning, one of the primary goals in the IRC design was to minimize disturbance to these existing ecosystems and in particular to protect the massive oak trees. IRC property was an infill tract within a high density residential area where the developer had gone into bankruptcy and walked away. The property was used for dumping of household waste, for dirt bike trails, two borrow pits and had no wildlife value. The site was also previously damaged by brush fires and a large part of the property’s native vegetation had been choked out by invasive exotics such as Australian Pine and Florida Grape. So from the beginning, the IRC site was the type of property that Audubon International likes to see developed since it was already extremely disturbed. IRC design was definitely a welcome improvement to the existing area. As an infill, the site was already within the existing urban services area of Indian River County. So rather than create a demand for increased services, the club made use of existing support facilities of roads and utilities making savings for themselves as well as the local government. During early clearing, the contractor was required to clear in segments from the center of the fairway proceeding outward. This allowed the development team to select trees for preservation and make

changes in the course routing as required. All trees that could be relocated were tagged and removed prior to wholesale clearing. More than 700 Sabal Palms were transplanted in that process. In addition, approximately 100 small oaks and 12 specimen oaks

Students from a local school participate in birding at Indian River Club.

(some upwards of 75 feet tall) were moved and preserved as part of the finished landscape. These trees form the perimeter buffer of the property today. The specimen oaks highlight the entry, and frame parts of holes #3 and #4. Preserving these trees meant there was not as much need to purchase trees for the project at an added cost. The specimen trees themselves were so important that IRC hired Dr. Arthur Costonis, President of Systemics Inc., to monitor the welfare of these trees and to treat their ailments continuing for more than three years. Another benefit from this project was that the entire course and club facilities were constructed without


importing any fill—a considerable savings in natural, as well as financial resources. In addition, the golf course routing skirted identified wetlands, incorporating them into the finished landscape. Where possible, advantage was taken of areas denuded of trees from the earlier brush fires. For example, these open areas were used for two fairways and the driving range. The clearing of the golf course was limited to play areas and routing adjustments were made in the field to preserve individual trees or stands of trees.

Now, because of planning and protection, residents from 29 states and Canada living within IRC enjoy a protected place of mature longleaf pine and palmetto forest and huge live oak hammocks; a place where seeing sandhilll crane adults and their little ‘colts’ is a frequent occurrence, where


Scrub Jay Preserve showing dominant male scrub jay. Photo taken by Bob Montanaro during one of the birding trips to IRC.


seeing a swallow-tailed kite is an exciting event, and where a quiet, social and natural lifestyle remains the path that the community has chosen.

Environmental Highlights There are many ongoing projects at IRC that address their social, environmental, and educational commitment to their community. Below are some of the outstanding environmental tasks accomplished over the years.


Early on, folks involved with Indian River Club recognized the importance of protecting its most valuable asset—its natural environment. Indian River Club’s development philosophy has always been “Good environmental sense makes good economic sense.” Audubon International believes this as well and sees environmental planning and protection as a priority when assessing a site for development. At IRC, throughout the development process, entire ecosystems were preserved, habitats were enhanced, thousands of native trees including those huge specimen oaks, were transplanted out of the way of development, acres of exotic/invasive plants species were removed, and native droughttolerant plants were introduced into community landscaping.

Scrub Jay Preserve: More than 13 acres of scrub oak

and hickory are maintained as a natural habitat and food source for the threatened Florida scrub jay, the bird that gives the #6 golf hole its name. The Florida scrub jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens) is one of the species of scrub jays native to North America and the only species of bird endemic to the state of Florida. Consistently two separate families of jays live on the property and, over the years, the population has tripled in size.

Native Gene Pool: In order to

facilitate natural wetland growth in the marsh created on holes #1 and #9, the top seed bearing layer of the adjacent wetland was harvested and spread over the created wetland. Native grasses completed the landscaping of the marsh.

Landscaping: The entire community development program was designed with careful attention to the

preservation of the unique habitats and landscape that shapes the course and surrounding neighborhoods. Homes were sited to preserve existing native plants and mature canopy trees. Each homeowner’s landscape enhances the native habitat and conserves water by using drought tolerant species. Many of the residents live at Indian River Club because of its designation as an Audubon International Signature Sanctuary, and the recognition of one of the club’s founding principles, “Respect for Nature.”

fertilization and use of slow release and organic fertilizers are promoted by Audubon International and by Indian River County Ordinance, fertilizer with nitrogen must contain at least 50% slow release nitrogen and no phosphorus can be used. There is no fertilizing between June 1 and September 30, which is the rainy season. This helps to keep nutrients out of water bodies thereby protecting the water quality not only on the IRC property but throughout the county and The Indian River Lagoon.


Indian River County Fertilizer Ordinance: Although reduced

spotted. This dedication represents 20 years of bird inventories for the IRC property. This is the most information gathered about bird populations on a Signature property and among all of our Signature Program members. In addition, elementary school students are invited to participate in birding events in an effort to introduce them to the wildlife of the area as well as to acquaint them with a golf course layout.

Drainage: Another valuable feature of the golf course is the excellent drainage. The golf course is designed with an internal drainage system that collects and discharges storm water into the community lake system. The lakes are connected to promote a stabilized hydrological period and provide attenuated point discharge into the local canal drainage system. Those canals eventually discharge into the Indian River Lagoon, the protection of which is priority for everyone involved. Drainage around the marsh consists of an exfiltration trench. Runoff from the fairway is directed into a “French drain” which allows storm water to bleed back into the ground water table and filter back into the marsh rather than sheet flowing over the fairways into the marsh. This is all in line with the Signature Program’s guidelines on filtered drainage from managed areas. Wildlife Inventory: Bird Walks at IRC have been conducted by Pelican Island Audubon Society since construction began, and they continue today. Once each month bird watchers in a golf cart caravan meet early in the morning to watch birds and other wildlife feeding. With binoculars and field guides in hand they all eagerly await the first sightings. On average during the 2 hour tour, 30-40 species are


Early on, folks involved with Indian River Club recognized the importance of protecting its most valuable asset—its natural environment.

Green Waste: Vegetation debris is collected in a location behind a berm on the golf course hole #5. The debris is ground into mulch to be used in various locations around the course. This recycling project reduces the amount of mulch necessary for landscaping and eliminates the cost to haul the debris to the local sanitation dump.

Tree Management Program: Hurricanes and other

storms are a part of life along the Atlantic coast and IRC has not escaped those events over the years. In 2003–2005, both Hurricanes Frances and Jeanne were instrumental in clearing a major part of the buffer areas, along with many pine, oak, magnolia and palm trees. Considerable damage was sustained to the native stand of pines and oak trees losing approximately 1000 trees. IRC has put in place a program for the replacement of those trees over the years. In addition, member can purchase trees for planting in memory of club members or relatives.

Speaking of Wildlife Bobby Wallace, new golf course superintendent at IRC, has really settled into that position. He takes


everything in stride as he learns all of the nuances associated with a Certified Signature Sanctuary. His most recent adventure was creating a temporary nest for the great horned owlets that jumped from their nest before their time to fledge. Bobby created a new nursery as neighbors watched. Scott Carpenter, a nearby resident, says he watched the whole thing unfold. When the new nest was attached securely, the hard part was getting the owlets out of the shrubs where they were hiding. Fearing wing injury, Bobby left the little ones alone for a while. During that time, the owlets Bobby Wallace, right, adding the makeshift nest to a pine tree jumped out onto the ground where another along the edge of a fairway. resident scooped them up and deftly placed them in the make-shift nest. What a fun Twenty Years of Signature Certification time for all! With most everyone I met during my site visit, the topic of conservation eventually turned to After a long day of reviewing the golf course, those owlets. It’s said that it takes a village to raise a maintenance facility and community and surviving child. Well, it may take a village to ensure that young a downpour, we three (pictured) were rewarded wildlife makes it to adulthood as well. with a lovely reception at the IRC Clubhouse. In attendance were many residents including long-time residents going back to 1997. Others in attendance Sherri Perlstein (left) and Bobby Wallace, co-Signature were IRC Club President Lou Cozens, HOA President Program Coordinators for IRC, accepting the 20 year plaque Jack Liddle, and Stu Bruk, IRC Director of from Signature Program Director Nancy Richardson (center). Membership. Thanks to Sheri Perlstein for the displays of wildlife photos and Signature support materials throughout. We also celebrated the placement of the new frontage sign at Indian River Club. This sign was placed by the community as a tribute to the 20 years of environmental achievement.

Among attendees were several long-time residents. Left to right are John Meersman (since 1997), Joanne Miller (since 2004); Donna Meersman (since 1997), and Tom Lincoln (since 2003).




So where does IRC go from here?

Homeowners, staff and management have continued their dedication and commitment to the Signature Program over the past twenty years and are actively seeking new ways to continue their environmental efforts. The community is really fired up to make the next twenty years even better yet. From Indian River Club Manager Lou Cozens, “Jack [Liddle], HOA President, and I will work together to make IRC the premiere Audubon [International] community in our area. Thank you Audubon International for the kind words for our staff; we’re extremely proud of their efforts.” Well, Audubon International is proud of all your efforts too, and we look forward to seeing what will come next for Indian River Club.

New Members and New Certified Members New Members ACSP Virginia Eye Dog LLC, Fredericksburg

ACSP for Golf California Fairmount Golf Course, Riverside La Cumbre Country Club, Santa Barbara River View Golf Course, Santa Ana Florida The Country Club of Winter Haven, Winter Haven Indiana Highland Golf and Country Club, Indianapolis Iowa Atlantic Golf and Country Club, Atlantic Maryland Leisure World Golf Course, Silver Springs Sparrows Point Country Club, Baltimore Mississippi Diamondhead Country Club, Diamondhead Nevada Aliante Golf Club, North Las Vegas Shadow Creek Golf Course, North Las Vegas New Jersey Lincoln Park West Golf Course, Jersey City Spooky Brook Golf Course, Somerset

The Links at Brunello, Timberlea, Nova Scotia Hong Kong Hong Kong Golf Club, Sheung Shui New Zealand Wairakei Golf + Sanctuary, Taupo

Green Lodging Program Florida The Pearl, Walton Vermont The Shire Woodstock, Woodstock

School Partners for the Environment Texas The Westwood School, Dallas Vermont Maple Street School, Manchester Center

Sustainable Communities Program California City of Riverside, Riverside Minnesota City of Windom, Windom

New Certified Members ACSP for Golf

New York Millbrook Golf and Tennis Club, Millbrook

Colorado Harvard Gulch Golf Course, Denver John F. Kennedy Golf Course, Denver Overland Park Golf Course, Denver

Oklahoma Lakeview Golf Course, Armore

Georgia Indian Mound Golf Course, Jekyll Island

Pennsylvania Bent Creek Country Club, Lancaster Concord Country Club, Chadds Ford

Pennsylvania Butler’s Golf Course, Elizabeth

South Carolina George Fazio Course at Palmetto Dunes, Hilton Head Grande Dune Resort Course, Myrtle Beach Tennessee Two Rivers Golf Course, Nashville Texas Austin Country Club, Austin

ACSP for Golf International Belize Kanatik Jungle Lodge, Hopkins Canada Manville Riverview Golf and RV Resort, Mannville, Alberta Muirfield Lakes Golf Club, Lyalta, Alberta

Wisconsin Dretzka Park Golf Course, Milwaukee

ACSP for Golf International Canada Cedar Brae Golf and Country Club, Scarborough, Ontario Whistler Golf Club, Whistler, British Columbia

Green Lodging Program Florida Rosen Inn at Pointe Orlando, Orlando

Signature Program North Carolina Crescent Alexander Village, Charlotte


Audubon International Sponsors Audubon International’s sponsors provide critical support that enables us to deliver high-quality environmental education and to facilitate the management of land, water, wildlife and other natural resources where people live, work, and play. These contributions have made a positive impact on our environment and we are appreciative of the sponsorship we receive for our programs and services.

As a tax-exempt, 501 (c)(3) charitable organization, Audubon International accepts donations from individuals and corporations to support our ongoing efforts in environmental outreach and education. Through programs designed to educate and inspire action, we are finding ways to work with others to make a greater impact. If you are interested in becoming a sponsor, please contact Joe Madeira at

Sponsor Spotlight The Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) is a nonprofit that provides leading propane safety and training programs and invests in the research and development of new propane-powered technologies. PERC is operated and funded by the propane industry. It is an incubator of new propanefueled technology and the world leader in propane safety and training programs and products. PERC works with some of the world’s most respected manufacturers, making critical investments in the research and development of great propane-fueled products that help Americans get the job done. Audubon International, PERC, and R&R Products partnered to test emissions-reducing propane turfequipment in a new demonstration program. This year, eight renowned U.S. golf courses are testing alternative fuel turf equipment through an inaugural research program with the PERC. The 12-month demonstration program will lease propane-powered turf equipment to participating courses chosen for their commitment to environmental practices.


Audubon International Partners Audubon International partners with organizations to help support our mission. These mutuallybeneficial partnerships involve the sharing of expertise and resources, collaboration on projects, and cross-promotion. Through our partners we are able to expand our impact and more effectively meet our environmental goals.

Audubon International is always looking to partner with nonprofit organizations, government agencies, and educational institutions for collaboration opportunities. If you are interested in becoming a partner, please contact Joe Madeira at

Partner Spotlight The First Tee is an international youth development organization introducing the game of golf and its inherent values to young people. It reaches young people ages 5-18 through golf instruction and life skills lessons administered at chapters, military installations, and elementary schools. Through after school and in school programs, they help shape the lives of young people from all walks of life by reinforcing values like integrity, respect and perseverance through the game of golf. With one in five students dropping out of public high schools, the organization addresses the need for quality youth programs. The First Tee golf program aims to be part of the solution to challenges facing today’s youth and research has shown that First Tee programs are having a positive impact on participants, their families and their communities. They help shape the lives of kids and teens by introducing them to values inherent in the game of golf: values like integrity, respect and perseverance. In addition to learning fundamentals of the golf swing and the game, the character education and life skills programs help kids and teens prepare for success at school, at home and in their community.


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