Environmental Stewarship and MTESP

Michigan Turfgrass Environmental Stewardship Program (MTESP)
Program Background
The turfgrass industry in Michigan is composed of golf course, lawn care, grounds maintenance, and sod production operations and the various suppliers of turf products and equipment. The industry has grown considerably over the last two decades and in 1995 the Status and Potential of Michigan Agriculture reported annual sales of nearly one billion dollars. While all segments of the industry are strong, the golf segment has demonstrated remarkable success in the last ten years. There are approximately 865 golf courses in Michigan, which ranks our state among the leaders nationally in total number of golf courses per state and number of golf courses per capita.
Within the golf industry, environmental sensitivity has long been recognized as a key to the future of the sport. During the last decade, the philosophy of golf course design and construction has changed. Architects have moved toward working with the existing landscape to preserve the natural features rather than making stark changes to the land.  This philosophy of environmental sensitivity is particularly evident in Michigan. Many courses have focused on the environmental resources of their properties and have taken measures to protect them from negative impact. In recent years, significant contributions have been made in environmentally based research to investigate the impact of turf maintenance and it has provided a basis for enhancing the environmental sensitivity of golf course operations.
In order for Michigan’s golf course industry to continue to prosper in the future, it is important to elevate the environmental stewardship of the golf industry and provide recognition for those accomplishments to the public. The Michigan Turfgrass Environmental Stewardship Program is collaborating with industry, university, governmental agencies, and environmental advocacy groups to make fundamental advances toward environmental protection and the future economic well being of the golf course industry.
The Michigan Turfgrass Environmental Stewardship Program is intended to organize efforts of the turfgrass industry, state agencies, Michigan State University (MSU), and environmental advocacy groups to advance the environmental stewardship of the turfgrass industry and to recognize environmental achievements. The program was developed at MSU with support from the Michigan Turfgrass Foundation, Michigan Department of Agriculture, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and Golf Association of Michigan. Over the past twelve years, the Michigan Groundwater Stewardship Program has provided the base funding to develop the program.

The mission of the Michigan Turfgrass Environmental Stewardship Program is:
• To advance the environmental stewardship of Michigan’s golf industry by
increasing the awareness and understanding of Michigan’s environmental
resources, the potential impacts of golf turf management, and elevate the level of
pollution protection;
• To enhance fish and wildlife habitat, indigenous vegetation, and protect water
resources with buffer zones on golf course properties;
• To clearly identify environmental laws and regulations and advance the
compliance of the golf turf industry;
• To engage the golf industry, regulatory agencies, MSU, and environmental citizen
groups in productive communication; and
• To recognize, promote, and award environmental stewardship achievements.

The mission of the program will be achieved through a series of educational workshops, self-assessment exercises and implementation of environmental action plans. As part of a participant’s commitment to environmental stewardship, they will sign a statement supporting the Mission and the following Principles of the program.

Program Principles
The Michigan Turfgrass Environmental Stewardship Program Principles are to:
• Promote and communicate best management practices to control potential sources
of pollution;
• Comply with environmental laws and regulations, adopt pollution prevention
practices, and reduce waste;
• Minimize inputs to the environment;
• Commit to the protection of the natural resources on the property; and
• Protect water quality, fish and wildlife habitat and native vegetation.

Pollution Prevention and Property Enhancement
The Michigan Turfgrass Environmental Stewardship Program consists of self-evaluation modules that can be used to identify, assess and eliminate potential detrimental environmental impacts on your property. The materials are designed to clearly identify environmental laws and regulations impacting the turfgrass industry and promote compliance with those laws and regulations. It is also designed to promote pollution prevention strategies and to recognize environmentally sound management practices. The program includes sections dedicated to promoting fish and wildlife habitat, indigenous vegetation, and water quality protection.

The modules include:
• Site Evaluation
• Wellhead Protection
• Fuel Storage
• Pesticide Handling/Application
• Pesticide and Fertilizer Storage
• Pesticide Mixing and Loading
• Equipment Wash Pad
• Emergency Response
• Irrigation Use and Conservation
• Buffer Zones
• Green Purchasing, energy conservation, waste reduction

If you desire more information on this wonderful program, details can be found at:

The Marquette Golf Club Grounds Department has been working on these modules since the winter of 2006/2007 and I am proud to say we completed them in December of 2010.  The plan is to finish up on a few items that need our attention this spring and schedule our final site visit in the summer.  It is our goal to be certified in the program by the end of 2015. 

Detailed below is a list of our Environmental progress since begining the program:
• Trash clean-up (cleaned up 70 year old junk pile, recycled 25 old tires, all old steel and 15 used batteries.
• Started oil recycling program and initially recycled 250 gallons of used oil found in miscellaneous jugs around the shop and property.
• Implemented spill prevention plan and added lights to the fuel filling area.
• Implemented emergency response plan.
• Implemented a battery recycle program.
• Scouted for wet/dry areas & adjusted run times accordingly (irrigation run time overhaul).
• Irrigation pump overhaul (rebuilt old heritage pumps for more efficiency).
• Buffer strip created around the Heritage irrigation pond.
• Spot treatment of fairway weeds first then spraying in the fall only if adequate control is not achieved in certain areas.
• Spot treatment program started on the moss found on greens.
• Utilizing a biologically based natural bacterial product in the pond to control algae.
• Wetting agent program started to help reduce water use.
• Over-seeding program started on the old Heritage greens to help increase a more draught and disease resistant population of bentgrass.
• Implemented daily course scouting for pest outbreaks and water needs.
• Utilizing BMP for all fert/chemical applications (based on written plan then adjusted for current turf needs).
• Implemented specific Topdressing, chemical and fertilizer records.
• Water use sheets filled out daily for accurate measures.
• Implemented a daily rainfall and weather conditions record log.
• New spray rig for more accurate applications (calibrations done monthly).
• Using low to sub-label rates on chemical applications when possible.
• Holistic approach to turf management (focusing on cultural controls 1st).
• Began building a mix/load pad.
• Switched to white food based mineral oil grease for equipment lube jobs and environmentally friendly hydraulic fluids utilized when possible.
• Maintenance building cleaned and organized (overhauled) to increase overall efficiencies in all of our shop mechanic duties.
• All on course Maintenance tasks were timed, recorded and averaged to create a plan of increasing our maintenance efficiencies.
• Created irrigation maps that will be expanded and improved upon every year.
• Implemented ‘Minimum Mow Plan’ when maintaining the golf course. This saves fuel, wear and tear on equipment and reduces labor needed to maintain our golfing grounds.
• Fire extinguishers replaced and now checked annually.
• Expansion of Native/Natural/Fescue areas on Heritage course to increase environmental habitat, reduce fuel use, decrease labor and reduce mower maintenance/repair.
• Removed wood shelves in chemical storage room and put up metal shelves.
• Created a detailed fuel use recording folder to track all fuel use and potential savings.
• Update MSDS folder and now make additions whenever a new product is introduced.
• Old maintenance building barn cleaned and organized (Focused on fertilizer area).
• Posted emergency phone numbers next to phone.
• Posted “pesticide used” signs @ 1st and 10th tees.
• Pesticide notification signs are now being used on the day of any application and placed at 1st and 10th tees.
• Implemented ‘1st tee time based on sunrise’ plan this greatly increased our maintenance efficiencies by drastically reducing mower idle time (waiting on golfers).
• Started a cardboard recycling program with all course departments.
• Two storage sheds constructed at Greywalls to house Green & Tee fertilizers and irrigation parts, these in turn increased efficiencies of the operation.
• Replaced all tee irrigation heads on Greywalls with part circle heads to reduce water use in these areas.
• Expansion of Native/Natural/Fescue areas on Heritage course cont...
• Expansion of buffer strips around irrigation pond.
• Started a recycled program with our pesticide and fertilizer jugs (triple rinsed) with Turfgrass Inc.
• Eye was kit installed at Heritage shop by chemical room.
• Started an annual plan to replace the irrigation heads around the Heritage greens to gain more efficient water use.
• Security light installed at fuel area at Heritage shop.
• Maintenance building was constructed on the Greywalls golf course to house and maintain all of the Greywalls equipment. This dramatically increased the overall efficiencies of our maintenance tasks on Greywalls and reduced many logistical problems.
• Expansion of Native/Natural/Fescue areas on Heritage course cont.
• Implemented plastic recycling program (all beverage containers from golfers etc).
• Implemented a scrap steel recycling program.
• Implemented Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure Plan (SPCCP).
• Upgraded lighting at Heritage shop.
• Old spray rig rebuilt for higher efficiency & weed applications.
• Now using Air Induction nozzles on spray rig for reduced drift potential.
• Addition of more organic (vs. synthetic) fertilizer in our plant nutrient program.
• Expansion of Native/Natural/Fescue areas on Heritage course cont.
• New fertilizer shed built for Heritage Green & Tee fertilizer storage.
• Mix/Load pad completed on both golf courses.
• Installation of fuel tanks and secondary containment pad at the Greywalls shop.
• Installation of topdressing sand pad at Greywalls shop to reduce sand waste.
• Non-potable water signs posted at all hose off areas.
• Hybrid Greens-mower (Eclipse) purchased to decrease fuel use and reduce some potential environmental impact due to hydraulic line leaks.

2011 Marquette Golf Club Grounds Environmental Action Plan
Below is the 2011 proposed action plan for the grounds department of the Marquette golf club. During the 2011 golf year we plan to continue our implementation of environmentally friendly decisions along with increasing golfer/employee safety and overall enjoyment of the game. To make these goals a reality we will be performing the following actions this season.
• Expansion of Native/Natural/Fescue areas on Heritage course cont.
• Utilize a bio-fungicide (Rhapsody) during the season to reduce pest populations and reduce our chemical fungicide use.
• Continue using more organic fertilizers when applicable.
• Upgrade the existing malfunctioned Heritage irrigation pump-house controls to increase water use and energy efficiencies plus better monitor water use.
• Continue spot treating weed populations
• Post ‘emergency fuel shut off’ sign next to shut off button at the Heritage maintenance building.
• Add bird and bat houses around the property to increase nesting grounds.
• Seal the two old abandoned wells on the Heritage course.
• Set oil collection dates or site for the members of MGC; so home oil can be collected and recycled properly.
• Repair concrete catch bowl by the Heritage fuel tanks to seal pathway in case a fuel spill occurs.
• Create a spill kit by the mix/load pads and fuel areas (trash can, oil dry, broom/dust pan)
• Continue to make improvements on our irrigation mapping.
• Continue all recycle programs.
• Continue to seek out new efficiencies in our operation whenever possible.

*Since implementing these efficiencies and plans we have increased our environmental habitat and reduced our overall environmental risks. In turn these measures have helped the sustainability and economic bottom line of the club by decreasing our fuel usage, course inputs, equipment repair costs and our labor expense.
Increasing organization and efficiencies within the grounds department, has created more time and resources that can be devoted and focused on what matters most to our membership; a better playing surface tee to green.

If anyone is interested in viewing our MTESP module binder, please feel free to contact me. 

Craig Moore, GCSAA Class A

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