A wildlife garden is one of many environmental projects Illahe Country Club has completed, contributing to their Audubon International certification on Friday, April 22, 2022, in Salem, Ore.

Nature trails, habitat help Salem golf course win sanctuary status

A wildlife garden is one of many environmental projects Illahe Country Club has completed, contributing to their Audubon International certification on Friday, April 22, 2022, in Salem, Ore.

Illahe Hills Country Club has been designated a Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary, in recognition of its sustainability efforts.

As part of the certification process, Illahe has cataloged exactly what plants and animals live on the course.

It has hung more than two dozen nesting boxes on the course, as part of a youth outreach project.

It posted “newt migration” signs, to make people aware of the rough-skinned newts that lay eggs and breed in one of the ponds.

A Rough Skinned Newt is one of many species that inhabits the Illahe Country Club on Friday, April 22, 2022 in Salem, Ore.

And it built a nature trail where owls nest each year, and created a National Wildlife Federation-certified wildlife garden.

“The two biggest things we were commended for when we had the inspector out was having an awareness of and efforts in promoting wildlife habitat, and our education outreach opportunities,” said Kassi Roosth, Illahe’s education and outreach coordinator.

Now, she said, “We are going to reach out to other golf courses in the area to see if they would be willing to take on this program, or even small parts of it.”

Not the Audubon Society

Nesting boxes are hung around the Illahe Country Club golf course to encourage birds to nest in the area on Friday, April 22, 2022, in Salem, Ore.

Audubon International has no connection with the National Audubon Society, the century-old birder group, or its local chapters.

Instead, it specializes in environmental sustainability certifications, mostly for golf courses but also for parks, schools, cemeteries and other businesses.

That’s created some bad feelings between the two organizations, especially because Audubon International’s certification does not specifically protect larger birds, such as geese, that can cause problems on golf courses.

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