In our April 22 Sustainability Issue, we examined how golf course superintendents are becoming more conscious of the impact their practices have on groundwater and the environment. No course is under greater restrictions than Peninsula State Park Golf Course, which is managed under the rules of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
Peninsula State Park Superintendent Kelli Bruns said the DNR requires that all applications used on park property are not just EPA approved, but certified through the United States Department of Agriculture.
“All pesticides go through the approval process at the Department of Agriculture, and we have a stringent reporting process as well,” she said. “We have to record who is applying the product, the topography of where it’s applied, the soils, the time of day and date, even the weather conditions. It’s very detailed. The person doing the application must be certified by the Department of Agriculture to do the applications.”
But just as private courses trust federal agencies to protect them from using dangerous applications, so does the DNR. In 2010 DuPont’s herbicide Imprelis was approved by the EPA for use primarily in killing dandelions. A couple years later, Peninsula Golf Course was one of many around the state and nation that saw infections of conifers on their courses, losing hundreds of trees.
Bruns said that all DNR properties are required to submit a report of the year’s applications and activities to the state. In grassy areas like Nicolet Bay Beach, Bruns said park staff follows a policy of minimal chemical applications, using them only to control poison ivy and invasive species.
“We’re very conscious of the products we apply and very well versed,” she said. “Typically, we won’t apply any type of product to grass areas in the park, except in the case of laying down new sod. In that case we might apply fertilizer to help it take.”
Every species planted is reviewed by the state park ecologist and must be native to Door County. Bruns said she would like to earn certification from the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf, but she simply hasn’t had time to complete the evaluations and paperwork required.
“We’ve gathered a lot of the information for certification, and what we found out is that we’re already 90 percent of the way there,” Bruns said. “We just haven’t had time to work on the rest of the application.”
“By implementing and documenting environmental management practices in environmental planning, wildlife and habitat management, chemical use reduction and safety, water conservation, water quality management, and outreach and education, a golf course is eligible for designation as a Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary,” according to the society’s website. There are 2,300 certified courses worldwide, but just three in Wisconsin: Wausau Country Club, Ozaukee Country Club and Dretzka Country Club.