StewardshipNews Audubon International’s
Volume 20, Issue 1
Sustainability in the Bahamas | 16 Saving the Endangered Ae’o | 20
Welcome Christine Kane, AI’s New Executive Director | 2
BioBlitz 2016 | 4 1
Message from the Executive Director
Dear Friends, I became Audubon International’s new Executive Director in November and since then I’ve been meeting with AI’s terrific staff and many partners to learn more about the content, scope and impact of our programs. It is certainly not an understatement to say that I am impressed! I’m excited to be at an organization with such a strong science-based foundation for its work that also values the power of partnerships. The result is award-winning work that combines environmental education, technical assistance and rigorous certification standards with hands-on projects, recognition of achievements and strong volunteer networks to implement environmental management practices that positively impact environmental and economic health at multiple geographic scales, from individual properties to communities and ecoregions. It’s also an honor to lead such a groundbreaking organization. Audubon International’s work in environmental resource management began in 1987 and paved the way for many of the sustainability programs we see at other organizations today, particularly for the great game of golf. We realized early on that the natural resource value of the areas where we live, work and play was not being recognized,
cover photo Great Blue Heron from Shadow Wood GC in Bonita Springs FL. Taken during Bioblitz 2016
valued or conserved, and we set out to change that. Today we have well over 2,000 active members around the world, in seven different programs, working to improve and preserve the quality and quantity of water resources, plant and wildlife habitats, community planning efforts and recreational spaces. As I continue learning more about Audubon International’s many programs and incredible potential, I look forward to working with our members and partners to expand our program reach and bring the principles of sustainable environmental management to even more parks, golf courses and communities around the world. Sincerely,
Contents Stewardship News Volume 20, Issue I 2016
DIRECTOR OF COOPERATIVE SANCTUARY PROGRAMS
DIRECTOR OF ADVANCEMENT
BioBlitz 2016 | 4 Results from our second annual event
DIRECTOR OF COMMUNITY PROGRAMS
Fred Realbuto CHIEF OF OPERATIONS
Member Spotlight| 8 Las Campanas in New Mexico has some new ideas for outreach
Featured Photos | 9
DIRECTOR OF SIGNATURE & CLASSIC PROGRAMS
Good “Natured” Neighbors | 10 Golf courses take important steps to become good neighbors
Delphine Tseng MANAGER OF MEMBER SERVICES
Reflections from an A.I. Steward | 13 Karen Shragg provides perspective on being an Audubon International Steward
Welcome New Staff | 14 Audubon International welcomes new Program Specialist, Allie Smith
120 Defreest Drive Troy, New York 12180 518-767-9051 www.auduboninternational.org
You can reach our staff via email using each person’s first name followed by @auduboninternational.org
Living Well in a Place Means Learning about Sustainablitiy | 16 Joanna Nadeau brings SCP to the Island School in Eleuthera, Bahamas
Saving the Endangered Ae’o | 20 The Kohanaiki Club in Hawaii works to save the Hawaiian black-necked stilt
Audubon International Announces New Conservation Services for Private Landowners Audubon International Announces New Conservation Services for Private
2016 The second annual Global Golf Course BioBlitz was a great success. In 2016 we expanded the time frame so golf courses from around the world could participate in an event organized by Audubon International. The event was open to any golf course worldwide—including those unaffiliated with Audubon International.
Growing in Our Second Year Audubon International’s BioBlitz 2016, a species-counting competition, ran from Earth Day on April 22nd through International Migratory Bird Day on May 14th. This annual competition demonstrated the large diversity of species that call golf courses home, while engaging local interest and support of the green space and recreational opportunities that golf courses provide to their towns. Thirty-three golf courses across the world participated in this second year of the event. Participants were challenged to identify species at their course by engaging the community and local wildlife experts. FAR LEFT: Kids participating at the Oldfield Club in South Carolina LEFT: Great egret chicks from Jekyll Island Club in Georgia
BioBlitz 2016 participants found a total number of 3118 unique species of animals, plants, fungi, and insects during this year’s competition, a 40% increase from BioBlitz 2015! This year, 1274 people participated across the world, which is an incredible 78% increase in number of participants from last year! Across the world, BioBlitz creates an opportunity for school children, community members, golfers,
and more to take a closer look at the habitats provided on golf courses. Sakonnet Links in Rhode Island reported that “Standing in a tide pool, one young participant remarked ‘this is the best field trip ever!’” Manager of Member Services, Delphine Tseng, co-hosted a BioBlitz event with Director of Grounds, Andrew Wilson, at all five Bethpage State Park golf courses in New York State on Earth Day. Tseng wrote, “Golfers from around the world were enthusiastic to learn about our efforts in creating wildlife habitat on golf courses and wanted to know how they could help.” During the event, a visiting golfer from Scotland remarked, “I wish we had something like this in Scotland!” Of the experience of co-hosting the BioBlitz event, Wilson wrote: “It’s rewarding to show these golfers another side of Bethpage. We have been certified with Audubon International for more than 15 years, and it’s important to let the world know what great things golf courses offer.”
By the numbers...
golf courses from Alberta, Canada to New Zealand and New York to Florida represented biomes from all around the world
recorded that call these golf courses home
took part in recording species during the month
plants & fungi species
total species encounters
Left: Bobcat counted and photographed at Osprey Point GC in Florida
and the winners of BioBlitz 2016 are... Award for Most Species Recorded (2nd year in a row!) Venice Golf and Country Club in Venice, Florida with 910 unique species
Award for Most Participants Jekyll Island Club in Jekyll Island, Georgia
Thanks to all who made this such a success! Stay tuned for next year!
with 161 participants
Award for Best Photo Shadow Wood Country Club in Bonita Springs, Florida Florida Softshell Turtle
Above: Australasian Gannet; Morus serrator from Cape Kidnappers in New Zealand Right: Barred Owl, TPC Deere Run in IL
Below: Sakonnet Golf Club, RI invited local second grade students to build birdhouses and participate in BioBlitz 2016
Member Spotlight The Club at Las Campanas Santa Fe, NM By Tara Donadio
ooking for some new ideas for outreach and education to your local community? Take some tips from The Club at Las Campanas, which was certified as an Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary on March 11, 2016. Between bluebird trails, farm gardens, honey bees and donating 399 acre-feet of water leased from the Jicarilla Apache Nation into the Middle Rio Grande, they are engaging with their community, and are a strong example of an Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary. The Club is contributing excess water to the release of over 260 million gallons of water into the Middle Rio Grande. The water will increase vital streamflow needed by fish and wildlife in stretches of the river that are drying out during late summer months each year. “When we realized we had the opportunity to donate excess water to support water conservation efforts and birds in our state, we immediately agreed to partner in this important initiative,”
Tom Egelhoff, director of agronomy for The Club at Las Campanas, said. “At the Club at Las Campanas, we provide habitat for 200 species of migrating and breeding birds, and as the only golf course in New Mexico to be certified as a cooperative sanctuary by Audubon International, we have focused on responsible water conservation practices, including a 20 percent reduction in irrigation water use by removing 30 acres of golf course turf and the installation of three onsite weather stations to provide weather data for our evapotranspiration-based computerized irrigation program, to name a few.” The Bluebird and Nature Trails at the Club provide yet another connection to their community. Bird walks are available twice a month, and the community plays a large part in volunteering to monitor the nesting boxes. The club and their Resource Advisory Group keep in constant connection with the homeowner’s association about the trail and bluebird boxes. The site also is the
ABOVE: Honeybee hives are located in two locations on the property. RIGHT: Walking Trails (above) and the release of a Great Horned owl below.
location for the Santa Fe Raptor Center to release Great Horned Owls, usually three times per year. The community is always invited to watch!
Featured Phot s
Bee hives and edible gardens on the property offer yet another way to engage the community, as they provide honey and vegetables/herbs to the culinary department at the club. n Look for opportunities to engage your local watershed group, environmental organizations and other experts to get your outreach and education up and running. Contact Allie or Tara at email@example.com or tara@ auduboninternational.org for help connecting with AI members, like The Club at Las Campanas, who can inspire you to get started at your course.
Sea Turtle Nesting by Rick Herren, Sea Turtle Conservancy in Gainesville, Florida
Natural Area Oldfield, South Carolina. A member in the Sustainable Communities Program
Share your photos! If you would like to see your photos featured here or on our Facebook page, e-mail them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
GOOD NATURED NEIGHBORS Golf Courses Take Important Steps To Become Good Neighbors By Lisa D. Mickey When golfers think of golf courses, they envision expansive green spaces with ponds, trees, and native wildlife. But often when non-golfers think of these same grassy areas, some view golf courses as water gluttons and excessive abusers of fertilizers and chemicals.
Fortunately for both sides, modern course management has demonstrated a willingness to minimize harmful substances, reduce water usage, and scale back manicured turf on these courses to better mesh the game with the natural environment. And “We find that for courses making this commitment, now when both golfers and nonthe payback can be golfers wonder significant, and those if golf courses courses are considered can be good neighbors in the great neighbors in their environment, communities.” the perception Tara Donadio is more often a resounding yes. “Managing a golf course with environmental standards is not easy,” says Tara Donadio, Director of Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Audubon International. “It requires the facility to commit to conservation best practices, like water quality, animal habitat, and naturalizing areas not in play—none of which have an impact on playability.” “We find that for courses making this commitment, the payback can be significant, and those courses are
considered great neighbors in their communities,” Donadio adds. Mark Johnson, associate director of environmental programs at the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA), says his organization provides professional education and resources for course superintendents to manage the land while “using resources wisely and protecting the environment. “Golf courses exist and rely upon a healthy environment,” says Johnson. “Courses implementing agronomic and environmental best-management practices are valuable green spaces in any watershed.” Even beyond how and where grass grows, course superintendents have become more focused on replacing invasives with native species. Craig Weyandt, superintendent at The Moorings Yacht & Country Club in Vero Beach, Fla., removed a mile-long hedge of Brazilian pepper and
extracted invasive Australian pines in exchange for planting more than 800 native plant species on his course. He also allowed his lake-bank grasses to grow 12–18 inches high, rather than mowing to two inches. By letting native lakeside plants
For natural mosquito control, Anthony Williams, former grounds director at Stone Mountain Golf Club in Stone Mountain, Ga., had two-dozen bat boxes built on his course to attract Southern brown bats. He also added 36 bluebird boxes on his facility’s 36 holes and stopped mowing a 14-acre area to restore pasture habitat.
“A lot of this is old wisdom that we lost along the way with actions that gave us the reputation of not being good stewards of Anthony Williams the land,” says Williams. “What we’ve learned is that everything we do grow, Weyandt created buffer as an operation has an impact on zones around water hazards to the wildlife and the environment avoid chemical runoff into ponds, around us.” while also creating wildlife habitats for fish, birds, and butterflies. Other courses, such as The Sanctuary Golf Club in Sanibel “I think we took what we had and Island, Fla., have added working made it better,” says Weyandt, who bee hives and planted native has led wildlife tours for members wildflowers to encourage and guests on his course for 10 pollination by bees and butterflies. years. The Sanctuary is surrounded
“What we’ve learned is that everything we do as an operation has an impact on the wildlife and the environment around us.”
Photo by Kyle Sweet by J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge.
the nation in recent years, with western states falling under strict guidelines and new usage challenges. TPC Las Vegas, for example, has found a way to uphold the standards and conditions of the PGA Tour while maintaining only 90 acres of turf grass.
Both Stone Mountain and The Sanctuary have earned distinction as Audubon Cooperative Sanctuaries—an Audubon International program that requires specific qualification criteria for golf courses to become “I hope people understand designated for environmental how golfers and golf course achievement. Locust Hill Country Club in Rochester, N.Y., also became certified through the program and its superintendent, Rick Slattery, says his membership gained a greater environmental awareness through the process.
designers are very good stewards of the land and environment.” Jack Nicklaus
“I would hope that some day, whether or not a golf course is environmentally friendly and sustainable will enter into people’s decisions about which golf courses they choose to join and patronize,” Slattery adds.
Over the years, Jack Nicklaus has designed or modified more than 375 courses in 36 countries through his company, Nicklaus Design, but the World Golf Hall of Fame member says one thing has remained a constant throughout his career.
Water has increasingly become a greater concern throughout
“I’ve always been a wildlife lover,” he says. “A main part of my design
philosophy is that a course must be aesthetically pleasing, and [that means] not only how the course looks to the eye—the greens, fairways, bunkers, etc.—but how it also includes the trees, native vegetation, and the wildlife that surrounds the course.” “I hope people understand how golfers and golf course designers are very good stewards of the land and environment,” Nicklaus adds. “When they finish a round on one of my courses, I hope it was a walk with nature and that golf was a part of that walk.” n Lisa D. Mickey is a regular contributing writer to GOLF Magazine, Virginia Golfer magazine and to The New York Times. In addition she contributes website stories to the United States Golf Association and helps cover some of their national championships.
from an Audubon International Steward
By Karen Shragg
in the city on the course to realize that even our nature center’s 150 acres did not have over 90 blue bird houses and room for both fox and coyotes. I just needed to ask myself, “If the golf course were to disappear, what would replace it, and would it be better for the environment than the open space created by this game?” The welve years and twenty answer was clear, they would not golf courses ago I became turn into nature centers. History a volunteer steward for the has proven that to be true. More AICSP. I am still an ardent fan and more golf courses go under of the Audubon International only to be replaced by housing Cooperative Sanctuary program developments. If I were a coyote, and enjoy the volunteer work I do or a mink, a hawk or an owl I for them. would definitely prefer the golf course. No one is there at night, I was drawn into the program and sparse usage is encouraged to as a kicking and screaming make the game of golf work. Golf environmentalist and nature courses are a center director. “If the golf course were book mark in “How dare golf to disappear, what would the developer’s courses ruin the goals of turning environment replace it, and would it be open land with their better for the environment into profit. chemicals and than the open space created Driven by our highly manicured ever growing environment,” I by this game?” population once asked. But density and its demand for I was intrigued, long enough to housing and services, golf courses look and listen to the assistant sit on prime land and developers superintendent of Braemar Golf are eager to remove their fairways course as he showed me the 425 and greens and turn them into culacres of rolling trees, streams de-sacs. and open space in the middle of a
nearby city. Bob Atol shared his passion for nature as someone who worked outdoors in an effort to provide a great game of golf as well as a place for wild animals to live and thrive. It didn’t take long for me to become converted to a new way of thinking about golf. Golf course superintendents and I have so much in common. We fight invasive species and need to wrestle with public perceptions of our sites. It only took seeing my first coyote
If I could help make golf courses greener through AI’s well thought out program of checks and balances, sign me up,” I told Bob. Braemar Golf Course became certified in 2004. I did their water testing and after ten years we were so happy to see that all of the addition of no-mow areas resulted in a reduction in phosphate levels. The stream was actually less polluted as it left the golf course, a great achievement to say the least. We became a team.
I volunteer to be on the natural resource committee of the golf courses I support with my work as local steward. I help with site visits and suggest projects that may help them achieve their certification. I always learn something when I go to a new course. I learn how just a change in turf can save on water. The best dividend is that I have made friends in a field I thought was forbidden to me as someone who cares deeply about our planet. Golf course superintendents want to minimize chemicals and love nature too. Together we come up with ways to achieve a reduction in pesticide usage and create more habitat for wildlife.
Audubon International provides great incentives for creating a best practices approach that both helps the local environment and golfing experience. I, for one, am glad to be a part of those who know that golf and the environment are not on opposite sides of the green spectrum. We are partners, always learning from each other on how to preserve the natural environment while helping golfers play on courses that are more beautiful and safer. n Dr. Karen I. Shragg is an author, naturalist and director of Wood Lake Nature Center in Richfield, Minnesota.
Passion for the Outdoors
New Program Assistant Alexandra “Allie” Smith brings a background in environmental conservation and education to the organization
’ve had a passion for the outdoors from a young age. Growing up, a majority of my summers were spent in the Adirondacks of northern New York State at my grandparent’s camp on Schroon Lake. When I went to college I knew that I wanted to learn more about the natural world and what I could do to help protect and preserve it for future generations to give them the opportunity to have all the wonderful experiences with nature that I did. After earning a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies and Sociology from St. Lawrence University, I started my first job as an environmental planner at a Soil and Water Conservation District where I learned first-hand about water quality and water conservation management, and also learned something about myself; that in addition to my love of nature, I have a passion for sharing that love with others through education. So I decided to combine my love of nature and passion for teaching, and spent almost two years as a Student Conservation
Association member at New York State’s Saratoga Spa State Park where, along with the full time educator on staff, I was responsible for leading the environmental education programs offered at the park.
Of all the wonderful things that I learned during my time at the park, I would have to say that the best was how to make maple syrup. The general process is actually relatively simple; you tap a maple tree, collect the sap, boil the sap down and voilà, you have maple syrup. But, it takes 40 gallons of maple sap to make one gallon of maple syrup. I
remember reading that for the first time and thinking, “Now I know why real maple syrup is so expensive!” There are also certain conditions that must be present for the sap to flow: the temperature needs to be below freezing at night, but then rise above freezing during the day. And, sometimes you have to collect sap for a while before you have enough to make syrup. The process of actually boiling down maple sap to make syrup is time consuming. There were days where I would spend upwards of 6 or 7 hours on the whole process for a quart of syrup. The concept is to boil the sap in a pan until the water evaporates off, leaving the sugar behind. You repeat this process, filling the pan with more sap and allowing the water to boil off, until all of the sap has been added. Then, once the temperature reads 219 degrees F (7 degrees above the boiling point of water!), you have your syrup. This may seem like a lot of effort for a small end product, but if you’ve ever had real maple syrup then you know that it’s worth it. And to be able to say that you made it yourself
makes it all the sweeter! During my first month at Audubon International I have come to realize that the process of becoming a certified member of Audubon International is, in some ways, similar to the process of making maple syrup. To start off, you need the right people to be involved with the process; a staff or community members who have a commitment to environmental stewardship and are willing to take action to protect the environment and preserve it for future generations; along with the commitment to see the process through to the end. Like making maple syrup, the process of becoming certified can sometimes take some time, and you may not see results right away. But small steps add up over time, and the end result is a significant accomplishment. To be
able to say that you are managing your resources in a sustainable way and conserving the land, water and wildlife associated with your facility is pretty sweet. My favorite thing so far about working at Audubon International is that it is a culmination of my interests in environmental conservation and environmental education. I look forward to connecting with all of our members and hearing about what inspires their passion for the environment. n Allie will provide support for the ACSP Program, which includes processing certifications, developing educational resources, and connecting with members. You can reach her at alllie@ auduboninternational.org or 518-767-9051, x116.
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How the Sustainable Communities Program could benefit your community
SAVE THE DATE: Thursday, February 23, 2pm ET Contact Joanna Nadeau at email@example.com for more information
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THERA EU L E
6 1 0 2
Living Well in a Place Means Learning about Sustainability
Audubon International Furthers the Island School’s Innovative Sustainability Initiatives By Joanna Nadeau, AICP Director of Community Programs
bout halfway through the flight to Eleuthera it got quiet, and soon after a spit of land appeared in the endless sea of blue. I was headed to the Island School, at the far south edge of Eleuthera, an island of 10,000 or so people just east of Nassau (on New Providence) in the Bahamas.
Island School faculty member Leigh Schmitt invited me there to share Audubon International’s expertise as this community - the Island School, the research program at Cape Eleuthera Institute, and the Center for Sustainable Development – was working to make their campus a leader in island sustainability.
In what feels like the middle of the ocean, the Island School teaches students, staff, and researchers from around the world what sustainable living looks like on a Bahamian island– or as they call it, living well in a place. They specifically wanted to use the baseline assessment tool from AI’s Sustainable Communities Program to identify areas needing improvement to reach sustainability, and to get verification of their existing sustainable practices from a well-respected and independent entity in the sustainability field.
Sustainability at Work CUB
Rio Verde is a close-knit, enthusiastic community that values its unique natural setting.
Audubon International staff visits each community in our Sustainable Communities program as part of the initial assessment, to get a deeper understanding of the situation and to introduce the certification process to community members. The campus was quiet during my visit, belying the fact that during the school semester it bustles from sunup to past dark. Students and faculty
normally start the day at 6 am with a workout (run or swim) and go strong with activities and homework well into the evening. Even in the off-season, research teams collect data on turtles and sharks, and school groups arrive for week-long educational adventures. Right: Leigh After squeezing in a short Schmitt, snorkeling excursion my at campus first morning, Leigh set an farm efficient pace to show me the many sustainable systems on campus. The buildings are are being implemented AND tested designed to catch rainwater here, for export to communities and store it in underground around the island and beyond. cisterns as a renewable source of water and to limit groundwater Visitors are repeatedly encouraged pumping. They have also installed to minimize resource use, given three living roofs which help limited supplies of water and retain rainwater while keeping energy on the island. Signs and the buildings cool and improving overall air quality. To further extend orientation materials reading “Take short showers!” and “Turn off all water supplies, greywater from appliances when leaving a room!” sinks, tubs, and washing machines inevitably raise one’s awareness is recycled through a wetland, about the source and fate of which also provides habitat for water and energy being used. The local wildlife while safely filtering messages also convey how closely the wastewater. Solar arrays on tied each island resident or visitor buildings and a 100ft wind turbine is to these resources, and how easy supply much of the community’s it is to forget that in our off-island energy needs. everyday lives.
Students at the Island School are drawn here to learn marine ecology and live at the beach, but they end up having hands-on experiences with sustainable living: producing their own food and managing waste systems and water supplies. A farm on campus augments the dining options with local and native foods produced using permaculture principles, testing effective methods for growing in sandy soil. The school produces biodiesel on campus to run all their vehicles but students commonly use the school’s community bikes to get around. These strategies for low-impact, low-resource living
After two full days of meetings and touring the sustainable elements on campus it is clear that the Island School community is having a positive impact on the community outside its walls. For example, the Cape Eleuthera Foundation is now adding community outreach to its existing priorities of providing local employment and supporting cultural events. As an effort to try and get rid of the invasive lionfish species, they started
the “You Slay, We Pay” campaign to buy the invasive species from local fishermen. They also developed a program to use the harvested fish in meals served to students at the Island School. This effort melds perfectly with AI’s Sustainable Communities three pillars of sustainability: a healthy local environment, quality of life for citizens, and economic vitality: the population of an invasive species is reduced, a new food source is now available, and local fishermen have a new revenue source. By considering the economic factors of environmental issues, the community is trying to create sustainabl
livelihoods for all of Eleuthera. Increasingly, buildings on campus are being built with green design elements and locally-sourced materials. Local challenges, like invasive plants, provide learning opportunities for innovation. Kitchen cabinets and beds in Hallig House, where I stayed, were built from an invasive tree species. Although the trees are so hard that they are difficult to cut, CSD (Center for Sustainable Development) staff have worked out methods for shaping and curing the wood, which once finished, promises to last.
Sustainability in the Future In part because of their location, this community will continue to have sustainability challenges. Without strong federal environmental programs and guidelines coming from the Bahamian government, the Island School must practice innovation and leadership to live well in this
place. Fortunately, those are two things this place has in abundance. Any plastic brought to or generated on the island must be reused, or it will be burned in open pits by local waste collectors. So, The Island School encourages visitors to leave plastic at home before they come because there is no local recycling Above: Reef balls restore marine habitat. Left: Sculpture on campus created by regional artist Antonius Roberts using reclaimed wood.
program for it. The Island School will also have to adapt and continue to expand sustainability practices as the systems grow beyond initial design capacity. Success has led to increasing student enrollment and numbers of research projects, meaning more visitors and more demands on limited resources. By connecting with Audubon International and our international network of environmental stewards, they now have a way to evaluate their efforts and learn about innovations from other communities struggling with similar issues. We are learning more all the time about how to live more sustainably, and one major step is to make time to learn from what has been done before. Between semesters at The Island School, Leigh Schmitt is also participating in AIâ€™s partnership with Green Mountain College, earning a Masterâ€™s degree in Environmental Studies and using AIâ€™s Sustainable Communities Program as a practicum project. The Stage One activities of our SCP are serving as
a catalyst to reflect on and improve sustainability practices on campus. Leigh gathered a dozen or so staff for questions and discussion with AI staff about past projects and future goals. With new sustainability projects starting each year, but limited continuity between cohorts, AI suggested that The School and CSD need new communication tools and organizational structures to capture what is learned through each project and adapt for future use. Planning guidance from Audubon International requires that the School document projects and track outcomes over time. As they discover new solutions, AI will help share their sustainability lessons beyond Eleuthera, to island communities around the world.
to head to a nearby beach. Leigh and I donned snorkels, masks, and flippers, tromped into the cool water and soon got lost in that quiet underwater world. Sun fading over our backs, I saw the waving sea fans, bright corals, darting fish, sea cucumbers, and a graceful ray as they went on with their lives. And I saw why this community is working so hard and cares so much about their impact on the environment: they have so much to enjoy and to protect – and AI’s Sustainable Communities Program is here to help. n To learn more about AI’s Sustainable Communities Program, contact Joanna Nadeau at joanna@ auduboninternational.org or 518-7679051 x124.
Above: Fresh vegetables are grown at campus aquaponics facility
As the second day drew to a close, we changed into swimming gear and jumped on community bikes
Protecting the Endangered
By Joseph Przygodzinski V, Agronomy Manager, Kohanaiki Club, Inc. and Nancy Richardson, Director of Signature and Classic Programs for AI
When we think of habitats for endangered species, we usually think of wild, uninhabited areas, national or state park lands, or Important Bird Areas (IBA). But as more development occurs across the country, wildlife in general is pushed into closer proximity to human populations. That is usually a bad thing—but sometimes it can be a good thing IF the right people are involved. Hawaii’s State Park System is composed of fifty state parks encompassing approximately 30,000 acres on five major islands. In addition, there are eight national parks that celebrate and preserve Hawaii’s unique beauty and native culture. All this in a state that falls somewhere between New Jersey and Connecticut in size. Another statistic that most of us don’t know is that even with all of that protected public land available, more birds have become extinct in Hawaii than in any other part of the world. A total of twenty-six species have died out, and twenty-seven more are endangered through changes in their natural habitats, forest destruction, and predation. One of those federally
and state listed endangered species is the Hawaiian Black-necked Stilt or, as it is called on the islands, the Ae’o. It is true that private lands are becoming more important to the survival of sensitive and protected wildlife species mainly because animals do not recognize boundaries, whether those be public park boundaries or private residential lot boundaries. The Ae’o, for example, prefers foraging in ephemeral fresh, brackish or salt water areas and is usually found below 660 feet elevation. It prefers sites of shallow water with limited and low growing vegetation or exposed tidal flats. Wherever this habitat occurs, the Ae’o will try to live out its life cycle, whether it’s public or private land. However, its ideal nesting occurs on small islands in fresh and brackish
ponds. One of those types of ponds is called an anchialine pool and anchialine ponds don’t occur just anywhere. An anchialine pool is an enclosed water body or pond with an underground connection to the ocean through tubes or fissures in the rock. The word “anchialine” (pronounced AN-key-ah-lin) comes from the Latin terms ‘anchi’ meaning ‘near’ and ‘halos’ meaning ‘the sea’. They contain a mix of salt and fresh water in coastal regions where depressions in lava exist. These are typically small pools, which form in limestone or volcanic rock, and are most common in the Hawaiian Islands. One of the areas where the anchilaine ponds occurs is on the west coast of the Big Island of Hawaii at a golf resort called Kohanaiki.
Protect the Habitat-Protect the Species Kohanaiki, the only certified member of the Audubon International Signature Program in Hawaii, is a 400-acre property features a 100-acre, 18-hole Rees Jones-designed golf course and 500 planned home sites. The resort is bordered to the south by the Kaloko-Honokohau National Historic Park, to the north by the Kona International Airport, to the east by Hualalai Mountain, and to the west by the Pacific Ocean coastline.The name “Kohanaiki” means “small bareness” and refers to the fact that the lava flows missed covering this area 30005000 years ago. Because one of the special residents at Kohanaiki is the Ae’o, part of Kohanaiki’s mission is to remediate the long neglected anchialine pools which are mingled amongst golf holes 12 – 17 located on the coastline, the prime nesting areas for the Ae’o. To protect the endangered Ae’o, Kohanaiki had to first improve, enhance, and restore
Avove: Kohanaiki team members creating nesting habitat at pond 172 Below: The Hawaiian black -necked stilt, or the a’eo (from Hawaiian name for the bird and word for stilts)
their favorite habitat-the anchialine ponds. Kohanaiki has a designated Anchialine Pool Preservation Area encompassing 1.5 miles of shoreline and 204 anchialine ponds and wetland areas. Activities within the preservation area are restricted to anchialine pool restoration activities, scientific monitoring and gathering of certain resources for cultural reasons upon approval of the Kohanaiki Cultural Committee. Helping the Ae’o Through its Signature program Audubon International works with many projects that are under development around the world. We provide assistance in the design and work with the ownership and management through construction and
then into long term management to provide a comprehensive approach to environmental protection. Kohanaiki’s staff was committed from the onset to working with Audubon International to reach Signature Program certification and build this project as environmentally sensitively as possible by developing a management plan focusing on wildlife conservation, habitat enhancement and restoration, water conservation and monitoring, and an integrated pest management plan. From the beginning, the anchialine ponds and endangered species were a concern. By working with the University of Hawaii and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), it was determined that to make Kohanaiki more hospitable and attractive to the endangered Ae’o, management must address three major issues that threaten their survival: 1. Restore the anchialine ponds. This is a painstakingly slow process. But as the staff removed non-native and invasive species such as pickle weed (Batis maritima) and Kiawe (Prosopis pallida), which had overtaken the ponds, they were pleased to see a rise in the amount of Ae’o nesting on the property. Re-naturalization & restoration continues at Kohanaiki, utilizing 90% of indigenous plants and the native volcanic material called A’a. Restoring the existing areas surrounding the
Completed nesting habitat at pond 172
property and golf course has also created the natural appearance Kohanaiki aspires to portray. Some of the indigenous native plants that have become vigorously re-established are the Akulikuli (Sesuvium portulcastrum), Uhualoa (Waltheria indica), & Piligrass (Heteropogon contortus). In 2016, Kohanaik spent over $50,000 for additional leased labor for restorative efforts of an estimated 6.5 acres. 2. Remove predators. Predator trapping for feral cats and Indian Mongoose is ongoing year round in order to reduce the overall populations and therefore allow the Hawaiian stilts to have a higher nesting success rate. This program deploys 15 traps to various locations each week to keep mongoose and feral cats out of the beach park and anchialine pond ecosystems. All captured animals are turned over to the Hawaii Island Humane Society. 3. Inform golfers and residents. Between March and August of every year, Ae’o pairs mate, nest, and rear their young in and around the anchialine ponds at Kohanaiki. During the nesting season, the maintenance staff perform routine surveying, marking of nests, and education of onsite personnel including all contractors working on the property. Although anchialine pond restoration is ongoing, activities are halted or delayed
if and when any Hawaiian stilts decide to nest or rear their young in a particular anchialine pond. This is done to limit the chances of altering the behavior of the stilts and their young. The monitoring team added countless hours of monitoring, sending property wide awareness emails, and employing other protection measures to ensure the safety of the birds. Nest Data Tracking Methods
antics of the killdeer and the alerts of Kildeer! Kildeer! Kildeer! This performance is to lure predators away from their chicks or eggs as well as to alert the neighborhood that a predator is nearby. The stilt does the same thing when predators (or monitors) invade their territory with a call of ‘kek kek kek’. Property wide surveying for nests and bird nesting activity is conducted weekly and observations are recorded as seen in the chart below. Nesting location, number of adults present, date of first egg, number of eggs, date of hatching, hatchling count, fledgling count, juvenile count, survival and rearing location are recorded. Other bird activity notes are added such as observed predator disturbances. A safe distance is maintained and binoculars are used during nest surveys to minimize disturbance. The most notable change between 2015 and 2016 is the survival of two juveniles in 2016, up from 0 in 2015. Also, impressive was the decrease in the amount in abandoned or predated eggs going from 27 in 2015 to 3 in 2016. This shows that the predator control is having a clear positive impact on the egg predation.
The staff noticed that as more of their natural habitat (anchialine ponds) was restored, the birds returned to those areas
As outlined in Kohanaiki’s 2016 Annual Signature Program Report, the Ae’o monitoring begins as soon as the bird nesting season starts and/or bird nesting behavior is observed. Once a nest has been located, a fence and ‘Do Not Disturb Nesting Area’ signs are placed in a safe perimeter around the nest. A shade cloth barrier is attached to the inside bottom of the orange fence surrounding nests before the first hatching occurs to protect the new hatchlings from possible predators and from wandering. Kohanaiki has also provided A-frame “chick shelters” and foliage inside the nesting area for additional protection for young hatchlings. Stilts are what is referred to as sentinel birds. Most of us are familiar with the broken wing flopping
Preparing for the Ae’O The staff noticed that as more of their natural habitat (anchialine ponds) was restored, the birds
Monitoring Observations for Hawaiian Stilt Himantopus mexicanus knudseni
2015 Season 2016 Season First Nest Confirmed April 27, 2015 April 5, 2016 Total Nests 11 8 Total Egg Count 38 22 Confirmed Hatchlings 11 6 Confirmed Fledglings 2 2 Confirmed Juveniles 0 2 Confirmed Abandoned/Submerged Eggs 17 1 Confirmed Predation on eggs or unknown 10 2 End of Season August 7, 2015 August 8,2016 23
top of the rocks to secure them in place. Next they planted the Akulikuli and A’e a’e on the islands in order to hold everything together in the hopes of providing desirable nesting platforms for the Ae’o. With the next high tides, they observed that the reconstructed islands were now indeed high enough to remain above the water level even during the highest of tides. The groundcovers began to cover this new “island.” The scene was set. All that was needed was for the stilts to come back to their preferred platform. Success at High Tide returned to those areas to create nests, limiting the chance of human interaction and potential nest abandonment. While pleased to find the birds nesting in their natural habitat, monitors noticed that sometimes the actual locations chosen were impacted by natural weather events such as high surf, hurricanes, and natural tidal fluctuations. After two years of documenting Ae’o nest losses due to extreme tides at two particular locations, the staff had enough data to take specific action to prevent such future losses and developed a plan in conjunction with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service following the close of the 2015 nesting season. The plan involved building up pre-existing islands during low tide on the islands where the birds were fond of nesting, using materials used for the project were already present in the ponds. In January of 2016, the pond restoration and maintenance team gathered rocks, mud, sand, and
algae, along with two different types of native groundcovers Akulikuli (Sesuvium portulcastrum) and A’e a’e (Bacopa monnieri) from within the pond basins of Pond 172 and Pond 69.
On April 3, 2016, the first pair of Ae’o were spotted preparing a nest at Pond 172 on the newly renovated nesting platform. By April 6, three eggs had been laid at Pond 172 and one egg had been laid at Pond 69. Unfortunately, the egg at Pond 69 was shortly thereafter abandoned by the adults. However, after 24 days, on April 29, 2016, two hatchlings emerged from their eggs in the nest at Pond 172.
They then placed the rocks on top of the pre-existing island in order to form a base for raising the elevation of the island. After that, mud algae and sand were packed around and on
After remaining in that pond for a couple of days, the family then migrated to another recently restored area, Pond 72, where the family lived for the next few months. On June 23rd 2016, the two fledglings were witnessed foraging at Pond 88 and then flying back to Pond 172, the pond where they were hatched. It was then confirmed that they had become first year adult Ae’o fully capable of frolicking, foraging, and flying as they pleased. Just the Beginning The most rewarding part of this
tremendous success was that both of the fledged Ae’o on the Kohanaiki property during the 2016 nesting season had come from the nest which was built upon the nesting platform that the Kohanaiki Team had helped to establish! Adding two new young Ae’o adults that are capable of reproducing to the gene pool is quite an accomplishment and very impressive considering the dismal world-wide population of an estimated 1,400 individuals. Next nesting season, these birds will likely return to the same piece of private property to nest. Whether they return to Pond 172 or 69 or just to other protected areas, with the ongoing restoration of the anchialine ponds and removal of predators, Kohanaiki will be the perfect place for them to raise a family. “With so few of this endemic species remaining in Hawaii, we at Kohanaiki are truly honored to be regularly graced by their presence. It was quite rewarding to monitor the small hatchlings as they grew from little downy chicks into juveniles, then into sub adults with their adult plumage. We look forward with excitement and anticipation to next year when they will hopefully choose to nest with us once again,” said Joseph M. Przygodzinski V, Kohanaiki Agronomy Manager. And we at Audubon International look forward to the coming years to see how these Ae’o populations change. With the assistance they have received so far from the Kohanaiki staff, we know they will do well. It has been our pleasure to be a part of this project from
its beginning, and we look forward to many years of working with such a dedicated and professional staff at Kohanaiki. Kudos to them for their commitment and dedication to preserving a species. Mahalo. n
Photographs courtesy of Cynthia Thurkins, Kohanaiki Nest Monitor. Nancy Richardson is the Director of Audubon International Signature and Classic Programs. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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New Members (continued) South Carolina IGM at Cat Island IGM at Lady’s Island Texas Wildflower Country Club Stryker Golf Course Gen George Underwood Golf Course The Courses of Clear Creek Virginia Westwood Country Club Gauntlet Golf Club River Bend Golf and Country Club Potomac Shores Golf Club Colonial Williamsburg Fort Belvoir Golf Club Cardinal Golf Club Washington Horseshoe Lake Golf Course Fort Lewis Golf Course Wisconsin Winagamie Golf Course
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LINNE Industries is the manufacturer of the PondHawk® Solar Pond Aeration System. Founded in August 2013 and based in Newark, Delaware, LINNE Industries designs and manufactures sustainable energy products that improve the environment while providing best-in-class energy systems that deliver dynamic solutions for their customers. PondHawk is the first fully-integrated pond aeration system that improves water quality, eliminates algae, and restores habitat without power delivery or electric costs. For more information, please visit www.LINNEIndustries.com. The patented PondHawk® is a solar powered subsurface aeration system that works without the need for grid electricity. Because PondHawk is not connected to the electric grid and needs no batteries, its operating and maintenance costs are minimal. The PondHawk is designed to operate year-round, even under cloudy and freezing conditions. PondHawk is quiet and doesn’t require a lot of space, making it the most environmentally-friendly solution on the market. Linne Industries announced that the company has partnered with Audubon International as a corporate sponsor of the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program (ACSP) in 2015. Linne Industries supports AI’s mission, particularly programs that work with recreational lands to improve environmental management practices. Linne’s green products offer dynamic solutions for customers seeking energy saving solutions while conserving habitat and natural resources. “Clean water is such a pressing issue“ said Sandra Burton, President and CEO of Linne Industries LLC. “Audubon International’s extensive work with businesses and communities that have water features, and require efforts to improve water quality, resonates with our corporate goals and we are proud to provide support to this critical mission.”
Green Mountain College in Poultney, Vermont was founded in 1834 by the Troy Conference of the United Methodist Church. Throughout its history, strong teacher-student relationships have been the hallmark of a GMC education, a tradition that continues today. At Green Mountain College every academic field is integrated with a focus on sustainability. Students lead, teachers guide, and hands-on learning comes to life through curriculum built on a framework of social, economic, and environmental sustainability. Using a bioregional approach, the instructional model deepens students’ connections to their own organizations, bioregions and businesses. In each program students apply concepts learned in class to real-world challenges in the community where they live. As a climate-neutral and EPA Energy Star campus, sustainability is not just a talking point at Green Mountain College—it’s a way of life, and they are proud to practice what they preach. GMC’s approach to higher education was the first of its kind in the U.S. and it remains the model for Environmental Liberal Arts (ELA). GMC’s master’s programs can be completed remotely and are designed to enable working professionals to advance their careers with high-quality education without detracting from their everyday responsibilities. Through partnership with Audubon International, GMC provides any paid employee of an active Audubon International member organization with a scholarship to any of GMC’s four online master’s degree programs, which include: Sustainable MBA, MS in Environmental Studies, MS in Sustainable Food Systems, and MS in Resilient and Sustainable Communities. Click here for more information about the scholarship: http://graduate.greenmtn. edu/partners/audubon_international
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