The team that keeps the grounds of the 1,000-acre Glacier Club green has scored an environmental hole-in-one.
The ace is the result of a focused five-year effort to earn designation as a Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary.
The recognition is given by Audubon International to golf courses that meet criteria for environmentally responsible practices.
Certification takes some effort, said Mark Hanson, director of golf maintenance at The Glacier Club.
Five years ago, I made it a personal goal to get certified as an Audubon cooperative sanctuary, Hanson said. Responsible development today will promote a quality community and impact future generations.
Audubon International has no ties with the National Audubon Society. It is funded in part by the United States Golf Association and is marking its 20th anniversary this year. The organization also certifies resorts, cemeteries, campgrounds and parks.
The sanctuary program provides education for sound management practices first and foremast, Jim Sluiter of Audubon International said Tuesday by telephone from New York City. No one pays for certification, but there is an annual membership fee of $200.
Sluiter is the Audubon International staff ecologist and manager of its sanctuary programs,
Audubon International has more than 2,000 member golf clubs, with 932 currently holding sanctuary certification, Sluiter said.
The Glacier Club is a private residential golf community located 20 miles north of Durango off U.S. Highway 550. The club, which opened as Tamarron Resort in 1975, won Aubudon International recognition last year.
The Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program grades golf courses on environmental planning, wildlife and habitat management, outreach and education, water conservation and water quality.
The Glacier Club grounds were developed to create distinct areas wetlands, forest, uplands, golf course and residential, Hanson said.
A variety of interests, including the owners, club staff members and local experts, look for ways to develop and improve wildlife habitat and introduce desired species such as nesting birds, Hanson said.
A recently completed project was a perch for birds of prey at the sixth hole on the Cliffs course. It quickly attracted avian visitors and became a favorite bird-watching site for golfers and others.
Among abundant wildlife species are deer and elk, coyotes and mountain lions, birds of prey and small mammals.
A pond for youngsters with trout for catch-and-release was installed.
We have a buffer area between the golf course and the residential area, Hanson said. We have open space for wildlife and brush piles for shelter.
A solid-waste recycling program has been well-received, Hanson said.
The clubs pest-management program takes a conservative approach, he said.
We establish a level of acceptance for bugs, fungi and weeds before we apply pesticides, fungicides or herbicides, Hanson said.
On the to-do list for this summer, Hanson said, is the repair of terrain disturbed by development.
Well replace topsoil, then plant native species mainly fescue and wheat grasses, Hanson said.
He also is preparing to create a butterfly garden near the clubhouse.
One of my mentors told me that we can only hope that the facilities we create will be around a long time after were gone, Hanson said. The best way to success is focusing on sustainability.