First held 52 years ago, Earth Day is now a global event celebrated annually on April 22 to demonstrate support for environmental protection. Born in the wake of by Rachel Carson 1962 book, “Silent Spring”, which documented the adverse environmental effects of indiscriminate pesticide use, Old Wisconsin Governor Gaylord Nelsonplanted the seeds (pun intended) for environmental classes to take place on college campuses across America using the environment to serve as a vehicle to spark political change.
Regardless of your political affiliations or how the history of the Earth Day movement has evolved, as professional turf managers, I believe we can all agree that we play a key role as stewards of the Earth. Mother. For decades our industry has been accused of harming the environment, and perhaps some of those accusations were justified many years ago. But the industry has come a long way since the days of arsenic and mercury, with many new safeners derived from natural compounds with low usage rates and even lower doses of active ingredient.
Many professional turf managers say they get into the business because they love the outdoors. Do you know any outdoor enthusiasts who deliberately harm the environment? I did not mean it. The truth is that these early superintendents did not seek to harm the environment either. They were trying to make the most of the tools provided to them. Today, we have the best tools ever available to create a sustainable environment.
From an early age, we are taught how plants take in carbon dioxide and give off oxygen. It seems simple enough. We live in a world where we are told that carbon dioxide levels are reaching dangerous levels, and we need more plants and green spaces in our urban jungles. And golf courses are among the best examples of natural habitat in environments where no other habitat is available.
In 2017, the USGA began funding a first-of-its-kind research project led by researchers from Michigan State University and the University of Minnesota. Called Natural Capital Golf, the project aimed to examine the ecosystem services provided by various forms of land use, including golf courses.
The original project compared 135 golf courses in Minneapolis-St. Paul has other land uses such as parks, farmland, residential land and industrial areas. Research has found that parks and natural areas contain fewer nutrients than golf courses (not surprising, given that golf courses are fertilized and parks and natural areas are not). ), but golf courses absorb and retain more nutrients than neighborhood residential lawns. Again, no surprise, given that your home’s lawn is adjacent to impermeable roads with storm drains.
But, more importantly, research has found that golf course fairways can store approximately one metric ton of carbon per acre per year and provide significant temperature cooling to nearby urban heat islands where heat is trapped. by buildings, streets, sidewalks and parking lots.
Dr Brian Horganof the State of Michigan said, “A person driving near a golf course could think of many other ways to use the land, but what they don’t understand is that there are tangible and intangible benefits that it derives from this land. I would even say that a community that subsidizes a public golf course could spend the best money possible, because it preserves the green spaces as well as the access to the services that the community receives from it.
This research is valuable because earlier this year the Assembly Cristina Garciaof California has proposed legislation to encourage local governments to convert existing public golf courses into affordable housing. We all want to see more affordable housing for our communities. But given the tangible and intangible benefits golf courses provide to our environment and communities, does it really make sense to remove them and reduce the amount of green space?
More communities need to support this research and help tell our story that golf courses are good for the environment. In fact, golf courses are great for the environment. If people are looking for ways to improve their communities and provide affordable housing, they should look to areas that are already made up of concrete and asphalt. I’m talking about the dilapidated malls that are vacant in every city and town.
Why not rehabilitate these sealed underutilized spaces to build needed affordable housing and simultaneously replace a small green space in the heat island by surrounding new homes with a park, playground or… golf field ?