Lake Spanaway Golf Course heading for sanctuary status

Lake Spanaway Golf Course has completed the first step in the process to become a Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary. That step, Environmental Planning, is part of a six-step process that often takes years to achieve, according to Tony Bubenas, the county’s golf supervisor.

The Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for golf courses helps to enhance wildlife habitats and protect natural resources for the benefit of the people, wildlife and the game of golf, Bubenas said. The program is part of the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary System, a nationwide network of backyards, schools, corporate and business properties and golf courses.

The network is managed by Audubon International, a non-profit environmental organization that fronts education and conservative assistance programs promoting environmental stewardship and sustainability. Once the environmental plan is implemented and the stewardship activities documented, the golf course will achieve national recognition as a Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary.

Sanctuary status won’t bring visible changes that golfers will notice.
The most evident changes – non-maintained, secluded areas for wildlife – have been in place for seven years. “This tall grass and brush provides excellent habitats for birds and small animals,” Bubenas said. “Nest boxes have also been installed, and we will be actively monitoring and maintaining them.”

The Golf Course Superintendents Association of America and the United States Golf Association are strong supporters of the Audubon program and have provided financial and educational support.

Bubenas hopes to involve a local high school science department to participate in the project. The First Green of Washington is a science class taught to middle- and high-school-aged students that focuses on agronomy, horticulture and golf course maintenance. “It has been extremely successful in the state where it was developed, and we hope to establish it here,” Bubenas said.

Lake Spanaway participation in the program was initiated by Andrew Soden, Bubenas’ predecessor. As the county moves forward with the program, Bubenas hopes to involve the public in a greater way. “By increasing our communication to the public about our involvement in this
program, we hope to demonstrate our commitment to environmental quality.

We want the public to become aware that valuable resources exist at Lake Spanaway Golf Course in addition to the golf holes,” he said.

Lake Spanaway Golf Course is located at 15602 Pacific Ave. and opened in 1967. Designed by legendary A.V. Macan, who also was the architect for Fircrest in Tacoma, Broadmoor and Inglewood in Seattle and Royal Colwood in Victoria, it has been recognized on a national level and consistently ranks as one of the top municipal courses in the Pacific Northwest. In 2002, the Seattle Times selected the 15th hole for its Puget Sound Region Top 18 and seven other holes on the course received honorable mention. Lake Spanaway has been selected as the site for numerous top amateur competitions, including the Washington State Amateur Championship last year.