The Northwest offers many great places to warm up your back swing for the coming golf season. The Salmon-Safe courses of Willows Run, Druids Glen and Salish Cliffs offer the full package – they are competitive, visually stunning and environmentally-friendly. The Salmon-Safe Golf Course Certification Program is part of the popular Northwest eco-label that is administered in Washington by the Seattle based non-profit Stewardship Partners.
The program looks at site development practices to protect water quality, fish and wildlife habitat, and overall watershed health based on a thorough set of peer-reviewed guidelines. The certification process begins with a day-long site assessment of management issues including irrigation efficiency, storm water management, pesticide reduction and stream and wetlands area management. The review is conducted by a third party independent assessment team. Current members include golf course architect David McLay Kidd, ecologist Jason King, Carrie Foss of Washington State University, and salmon biologist Peter Bahls. The team also reviews management policies and documents related to environmental management of facilities and grounds.
One of the many benefits of these newly-certified courses is that they reduce the amount of pollution that gets into salmon-bearing streams and Puget Sound. The Washington State Department of Ecology considers polluted runoff to be the number one water quality problem in Washington. “If you love golfing, fishing and the environment, these golf courses offer a win-win,” says Stewardship Partners Executive Director, David Burger.
Willows Run Golf Club – Redmond, Wash.
Willows Run recently received its Salmon-Safe certification based on meeting a number of conditions that include storm water management, integrated pest management planning, instream habitat protection and restoration, water consumption reduction, as well erosion and sediment control. Willows Run’s participation in King County’s recycled water program was an important factor in achieving certification and is the first example of any certified site in Puget Sound that has exhibited this level of leadership. Not only does using recycled water reduce consumption of other fresh water sources, but it also helps preserve instream flow critical for salmon habitat.
Based on industry standards, Willows Run uses less than half the amount of fertilizer per acre that is normally used at conventional golf courses. Additionally, an extensive restoration area along the fourth hole adds habitat potential as it minimizes the need for buffers between the roadway and the course.
Brian Patton from Access Golf LLC, owners of Willows Run, sees Salmon-Safe as a good business model for other courses. “I believe that Salmon-Safe certification will immediately help course promotion and contribute to improved business,” he says. “We hope to be a catalyst for other courses who consider moving towards Salmon-Safe certification.”
Druids Glen Golf Club – Covington, Wash.
Druids Glen is located in a scenic part of southeast King County that has seen its share of urbanization and the growing pressures of new development. With over 380 acres of land, the course provides important open space for the City of Covington. Druids Glen received its Salmon-Safe certification based on meeting a number of conditions that include storm water management, integrated pest management planning, instream habitat protection and restoration, water consumption reduction, as well erosion and sediment control. Druids Glen has committed to ongoing habitat conservation to enhance additional buffer areas and control invasive plant species. Soos Creek, the salmon-bearing stream that runs through the course, is a critical Coho salmon habitat and the course is also home to six resident elk who tee off with another 30 in the herd. It’s not just salmon and elk that you’ll see there – the birdies on this course often include eagle, heron and red hawks. Thanks to their comprehensive system, not a drop of water leaves the site without being filtered first.
Salish Cliffs Golf Club – Shelton, Wash.
The Squaxin Island Tribe’s Salish Cliffs Golf Club was the first Salmon-Safe certified golf course in the world. Four years ago, the course went through a thorough assessment with the goal of managing water runoff, reducing pesticides, and advancing environmental practices throughout the region. Dave Lopeman, former chair of the Squaxin Island Tribal Council, notes, “Salmon-Safe certification, with its rigorous site assessment process and regional focus on the Pacific Northwest, has helped inform our project from site planning through ongoing operation.”
Salmon-Safe is a non-profit based in Portland, Ore. working to transform land management practices so Pacific salmon can thrive in West Coast watersheds. Salmon-Safe works across the West Coast through our Partner Network. The Salmon-Safe alliance of non-profits includes Stewardship Partners in Puget Sound, Oregon Tilth, Pacific Salmon Foundation, Fraser Basin Council, Demeter, Vinea and Trout Unlimited. Salmon-Safe seeks to extend the range of the Network in key agricultural and urban watersheds throughout the West Coast range of Pacific salmon.
Established in Seattle 15 years ago, Stewardship Partners empowers landowners to protect the environment. By collaborating with diverse interest groups we build bridges and find solutions that achieve mutual goals of environmental protection, economic health, and community well-being. Our projects restore fish and wildlife habitat, improve water quality, protect open space, and “green up” the built environment while maintaining working landscapes of farms, forestland, and livable communities throughout the state.