Sand Ridge Golf Club Celebrates Fifteen Years of Audubon International Certification

Sand Ridge Golf Club was recently re-certified as a Signature Sanctuary by Audubon International. Sand Ridge registered in the Signature Program in 1998 and recently passed its sixth on-site review. The golf course is the only private club in the state of Ohio to earn and maintain its certification in the prestigious Audubon International Signature Program.

“Since the conception of Sand Ridge Golf Club, we have been committed in providing our membership with an exceptionally conditioned golf course while being conscious of our environmental surroundings. Audubon International has been instrumental in helping us create a blueprint that has allowed us to achieve these goals. We are extremely proud of our certification for the past 15 years,” said Brent Palich, Golf Course Superintendent.

Sand Ridge is a Tom Fazio-designed 18-hole private golf course, consisting of 359 acres in the western foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. The 17th hole of the golf course has a ridge line which is part of the watershed divide of the Chagrin and Cuyahoga Rivers, both of which are designated as Ohio Scenic and Wild Rivers and flow into Lake Erie. Located only 30 miles east of Cleveland, Sand Ridge is home to 102 acres of wetlands, studied and cared for by wetlands ecologist, Dr. Edward J.P. Hauser. His work since 1993 has been to coordinate the enhancement of wetlands by removing invasive woody species such as buckthorn and tall reed grass.

Environmentally prudent highlights since 1998 include the following:

• Conservation Easement. All open space including over 120 acres of natural and created wetlands, 100 acres of uplands and created lakes, and the golf course foot print are protected by a conservation easement.

• Bio-Diesel Fuel. Bio-Diesel fuel blends are used in tractors and large equipment with internal combustion engines, meeting EPA Tier 4 Emission Standards and resulting in increased engine performance efficiency. In addition, the bio-diesel blend extends the life of the engines by three to five years and reduces fuel costs by over $1,000 annually.

• Naturalized Acreage. Approximately 65 acres of the original golf course footprint have been converted to upland open meadows. The annual savings is estimated to be about $65,000 as mowing, use of fertilizers and pesticides, and labor time is significantly reduced. These new areas are food niches and microhabitats for wildlife.

• Beaver Dam. Open water zones by two beaver dams have created new aquatic beds and marsh habitat for plant and animal species. The aquatic plant coon-tail has flourished as a result, and in 2013 northern pike fingerlings were observed for the first time.

• Mitigation Wetland Project. In 2004 Sand Ridge was selected to provide wetlands mitigation by the US Army Corps of Engineers and Ohio EPA for nearby residential areas. Under the direction of Dr. Hauser, three acres of wetlands were designed and created, consisting of aquatic beds, wet meadow-marsh, swamp shrub, and swamp forest. In 2009 and 2010, Ohio EPA visited the sites and deemed the created wetlands a success.

• Bunker Sand. In all bunkers or sand traps, all original fine grained sand has been replaced with a new large grained angular aggregate type to prevent washouts during heavy rain. Also, because the sand is much more stable, there has been a 50% reduction in labor costs to maintain the bunkers.

• Invasive Plant Species Control. Sand Ridge staff successfully eradicated the invasive plant Purple Loosestrife through a nine-year program of monitoring and removal. The team has also been successful in removing buckthorn and converting the scrublands into marsh and wet meadow.

“It is always a pleasure to visit Sand Ridge to see what is in bloom, what wildlife will be observed, or what projects have just been completed. This recent site visit was Sand Ridge’s sixth on-site re-certification evaluation and they passed with flying colors,“ said Nancy Richardson, Director of the Audubon International Signature Program. “A highlight of this visit was the discovery of two new wetland plant species not previously noted on the property and the observation of a pair of juvenile red-headed woodpeckers whose species has declined in the northeastern US. Congratulations to Brent Palich, the Sand Ridge administration and staff, and ecologist Dr. Hauser as the team approach they have implemented continues to enhance and protect the environment and provide a great recreational experience.”

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