For Immediate Release
May 3, 2006
Contacts: Ellen Ternes, 301-405-4621 or email@example.com
UM Golf Course a Haven for More than Golfers
Golfers aren't the only ones who take refuge in the 150 rolling, wooded acres of the University of Maryland Golf Course .
Thanks to a careful regimen of environmentally friendly practices, the course, named an Audubon International Certified Wildlife Sanctuary in 2003, is also a haven for more than 25 species of birds, 13 mammals, amphibians and reptiles, and more than 25 varieties of trees. And then there are the butterflies, wildflowers and wetlands grasses.
The University of Maryland Golf Course is only the eighth Maryland course to be certified by the Audubon Society for its environmental, wildlife and habitat management.
"When you're on the course, it's hard to believe you're just inside the Beltway," says course director Jeff Maynor. "We have a lot more wildlife, including some new species, since we started using the environmentally friendly practices it took to receive our certification. It makes the course more than just a place where people play golf."
Green space is getting harder to come by in the suburbs. The University of Maryland has developed a master plan that will return some green areas to the sprawling campus, where new buildings and parking lots demand so much space.
"We started thinking that since we already have a green area here," said Maynor, " 'what can we do to help the university in the effort to protect and enhance our environment?'"
It turned out to be a project that took more than just filling out an application. The staff was required to attend Audubon classes. They had to change some fertilization, irrigation and insect management practices, and they're now using fewer chemicals and fungicides that are better for the environment. Dead trees that are not hazards are left for wildlife habitat.
They've built houses for purple martins -- birds that eat two times their body weight in insects every day -- instead of spraying for mosquitoes. Bluebird boxes are on this year's to-do list.
"We don't spray chemicals within ten feet of creek banks and pond edges," says Maynor. "This has resulted in an improvement in the water quality. And we've seen a significant decrease in nitrogen levels as a result of our fertilizing practices."
Students and faculty helped the golf course staff meet the Audubon standards. They surveyed the woodlands and wetlands that dot the course and identified wildflowers, birds and insects. Professor emeritus and a tree expert Henry Mityga helped identify the more than two dozen varieties of trees. Many of the course's trees are now labeled.
"We had a lot of wildlife to begin with," says Maynor, "but now we're seeing even more. For the first time in years we are seeing chipmunks. We have bird watchers call about coming out. Our golfers appreciate that we are concerned about the environment."
One golfer, who works for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Pesticide Programs, was so impressed that he recently brought a group of EPA employees to the course to see firsthand how the staff maintains its Audubon rating.
The University of Maryland Golf Course is a public, self-supporting course. Opened in 1958, it also provides classes for students and is a practice facility for the university's golf teams and recreation site for students and the public.
Check out the wildlife species at the UM golf course.