One of the many aspects of being at Elcona CC that I truly take pride in is the club’s active participation in the Audubon Cooperative Golf Course Sanctuary Program. Beginning with Tom Zimmerman’s vision and efforts in the 1990’s, through all the hard work that Greg Shaffer, volunteer members of the club, and the Grounds staff performed to achieve Certified Sanctuary status in 2012, it demonstrates our commitment to environmentally friendly maintenance practices and protection of our native wildlife.
|Ryan explaining how the raingarden filters sediment
We recently had our Recertification Visit, which went quite well. A special thanks to Todd Sullivan, Emma Wynn, Greg Shaffer, and Greg Stump for their participation and discussion during our visit. Eric Kurtz, Stormwater Coordinator for the Elkhart Co. Soil and Water Conservation District, was our guest and he was quite impressed with Elcona’s efforts, as his article in their monthly newsletter states below:
Article from: Grass Roots for Conservation – Elkhart County Soil and Water Conservation District June 2014
“The Elcona Country Club became a Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary in 2012. This education and certification program promotes environmentally-sensitive golf course management, including wildlife conservation, water conservation, water quality protection, and chemical use reduction and safety.
Every two years, the club is required to be recertified, which includes a visit by an independent third party. Elcona asked the SWCD to perform the visit on May 27. Our inspector (a non-golfer) sure got an education, and was very impressed with the ways the club is protecting resources. They started working toward certification in the early 1990s, which shows a long-term commitment.
Among other efforts, the club has greatly reduced areas that they mow, increased wildlife corridors, installed bird and bat houses, left “wild” areas next to ponds, educated their members, and increased the precision of chemical applications. They also rely on a weather station and the latest smartphone technology to make sure they are watering just the right amount for their needs. These efforts have helped their environmental impact as well as their bottom line, as they have reduced overhead for mowing, watering, and other practices. Our relationship with Elcona started when the club reached out to the SWCD in 2012 to help with a rain garden. They had a unique situation – they wanted the rain garden to take runoff from an area where they regularly wash off their mower decks. The SWCD, along with Indiana Master Naturalist volunteers, helped the club install a rain garden that met their needs. This visit demonstrated to us that their commitment to stewardship is more than skin-deep, but has permeated their practices and the way they do business. They welcome contact from anyone who wants to learn more.”
Also, The Goshen News recently took a tour of the property and wrote a nice article as well, which you can read here. We hope to hear very soon on achieving our Recertification, and continue to finding projects to further extend our stewardship.
|Audubon trail map on the back 40
One such area that is a large piece of our Audubon efforts are our hiking trails to the east of the clubhouse. Greg wrote a tremendous blog on these trails
in 2013, but for our new members I wanted to make sure you knew of their availability for family hiking, biking, and cross country skiing in the winter. There are 10k of trails to explore, which the picture to the right shows. This is yet another option for your recreation that Elcona offers you as a member. Come on out on a nice afternoon for a nice walk!