Chambers Bay Awarded Signature Status

Audubon International has announced that Chambers Bay Golf Course in University Place, Wash., is the first golf course to become certified as a Silver Signature Sanctuary in the state of Washington and in the Pacific Northwest. Signature certification is awarded only to new developments that are designed, constructed and maintained according to Audubon International's precise planning standards and environmental disciplines. The focus of the Signature Program is to promote sound land management practices and appropriate land use changes based on sound scientific research.

Using a property that was already disturbed by mining on a former Glacier/Lone Star Northwest Gravel Mine site outside of Tacoma, Audubon International worked cooperatively with Pierce County on its 250 acres to restore habitat and to provide a cohesive educational program aimed at golfers, areas resident and trail users. The entire project covers 928-acres of Chambers Creek Properties, containing parcels that included 650 acres of gravel mines, two miles of shoreline, and a three-mile-long, forested ravine with a backdrop of Puget Sound, McNeil and Fox Islands and a western horizon framed by the Olympic Mountains.

"From the time of its initial registration in the Signature Program, Pierce County has demonstrated a willingness to make decisions that positively affect wildlife habitat, water conservation and the ecosystems that sustain life," said Audubon Signature Programs Director Nancy Richardson. "The County's commitment to environmental excellence will continue to provide significant benefits to the natural resources on and surrounding the golf course property and to the citizens that use the property."

"We are thrilled with the Audubon certification," said Steve Skinner, president and COO of KemperSports, the company that operates the course. "Our company is committed to being a leader in environmental stewardship." The KemperSports staff, led by superintendent David L. Wienecke, has worked closely with Pierce County and Audubon International to establish Chambers Bay as an environmentally friendly golf course and will continue in these efforts moving forward.

Chambers Bay is an 18-hole walking-only, links-style golf course divided by the SoundView multi-purpose trail. Residents from surrounding areas hike, jog and enjoy the views. The SoundView Trail system was opened to the public May 5, 2007, and welcomes dogs, families, bicycles, walkers and runners. It provides public access right through the golf course and along the western edge of the property bordering Puget Sound.

In the 1970s, the site was the most productive sand mine in the United States and, when the entire project is completed, it will have the longest expanse of public beaches in Washington State. The only indication of the sand and gravel mine are structures left to show the mine heritage along the south edge of the 18th hole.

Perhaps the most impressive natural features on the site are the dunes created during the construction process and vegetated with native plants and grasses. Course designers, Bruce Charlton and Jay Blasi with Robert Trent Jones II, LLC created a layout that restored the land to look like it was carved right out of dunes.

Many holes are isolated by the dunes while others feature significant elevation changes. Although there are no trees on the property except the lone Douglas fir behind the tee at No. 16, terrestrial wildlife will find shelter within the adjacent Northern Forest Preserve of mixed conifer-deciduous forest with dominant species of Douglas fir, Pacific madrona, red cedar and ocean spray.

To become certified, each Signature member must implement management of the property according to a Natural Resource Management Plan (NRMP) for the property that addresses the following: Wildlife Conservation and Habitat Enhancement, Water Quality Monitoring and Management, Integrated Pest Management, Water Conservation, Energy Efficiency and Waste Management. The designation of Certified Silver Signature Sanctuary is contingent upon the quality and completeness of the NRMP and its implementation.

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