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S O P Audubon Program

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  • 1. Standard Operating Procedure for Managing our Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program This manual has been developed to serve as a guide to help us manage The Minikahda Club property, which is a member of Audubon International and is qualified as a Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary. This manual is intended to be a guide toward managing the property on a consistent basis, year after year. There are many aspects required for managing this program as well as a great deal of information that we can use for promoting its use as well information that can be used for the management of the environment associated with The Minikahda Club. Management Practices for the following items: 1. Management of Natural Areas a. Fescue no-mow zones b. Wetland grass corridors c. Fairway bunker faces 2. Nesting Boxes a. Bluebird houses b. Wood duck houses c. Mallard platforms 3. Bird Feeder Management 4. Annual Bird Watch 5. Water Management a. Ponds/creek b. Irrigation watering practices 6. Wildlife 7. Fertility Management Practices a. Organic fertilizers b. Biostimulants c. Application methods 8. Recycling and Building Management a. Equipment wash station b. Pesticide building c. Biolet toilets d. Recycling e. Energy Saving Products f. Composting 9. Outreach and Education
  • 2. Management of Natural Areas No-Mow Zones We currently have eleven natural areas, also known as No-mow areas that have been developed on the golf course. These are areas that have been identified as “not in play” for the average golfer and are in various areas throughout the golf course. Some of the No-mow areas are in locations where the turf was allowed to grow from the existing turf varieties and in other areas we replanted the location with a fescue turf seed mix called Tradition. In all of the locations the natural areas are designed to be outlined within a circle of irrigation heads. The irrigation heads are located on the perimeter of the natural areas and the irrigation heads are designed to only have the ability to irrigate away from the natural areas due to the part-circle heads that each head contains. The use of the part- circle heads allows us to reduce the total amount of water that is being applied to the golf course. The reduction in water to the no-mow areas also creates a great natural environment for the fescue to survive. No-mow areas are managed with what the term implies, no mowing. Typically, each fall season these areas will be cut down to allow for new generation in the spring. This practice also aids with weed management. Herbicides are applied on an as need basis and applications are typically only used on a spot treatment basis. Not only are these natural areas aesthetically pleasing to have co-exist on the golf course but they are excellent areas for wildlife to survive in. The No-mow areas provide exceptional habitat for various rodents which in turn prove to be great hunting grounds for many raptor type bird species. We also use these areas to mount Eastern Bluebird next boxes, as there are large numbers of ground insects for the birds to feast upon and prove to an attractive location for the birds to nest. Locations Square Footage 1. Left of #4 green 32,800 sq.ft. 2. Right #5 tee 30,600 sq.ft. 3. Right #8 Tee 6,350 sq.ft. 4. Right #10 Tee 31,200 sq.ft. 5. Behind #11 Green 24,100 sq.ft 6. Behind #13/14 Green/tee 57,650 sq.ft. 7. Left Rough #15 Fence line 4,500 sq.ft. 8. Behind #15 Green 21,000 sq.ft 9. Left Rough #16 Fence line 10,000 sq.ft 10. Middle Rough 15, 16, and 17 49,400 sq.ft. Total square footage/acreage 267,600 sq.ft. or 6.14 acres Wetland Grass Corridors
  • 3. Wetland grass corridors are maintained along the creek and pond banks along our 11th pond and creek bank, 8th pond and creek and 9th pond and creek. We also maintain a wetland grass buffer around about 1/3 of the 6th pond. The banks and buffer areas consist of wetland grasses such as rushes, sedges, little bluestem, big bluestem and other various wetland grasses. Weeds are managed through the use of a spring-time controlled burn as well as spot treatment of herbicides as well as hand pulling of weeds as needed. The total buffered areas surrounding our wetland areas is approximately 1.33 acres. Fairway Bunkers We have a total of 52 approach and fairway bunkers. Of those bunkers we have 39 bunkers that are maintained with fescue grasses that are allowed to grow to their maximum height. These bunkers are not fertilized and they are not irrigated through the use of the automatic irrigation system. We have a total of 55 irrigation heads that are part-circle heads stationed around the bunkers so the faces do not receive water from our system. Our goal is to create an environment where fescue grasses can thrive and be managed as the dominate grass species. Weeds will be spot treated with herbicides as well as any Kentucky bluegrass that might creep into the area. The bunker faces are cut down in the fall or during times when rainfall amounts are too great and the fescue begins to become too thick for play. Otherwise the bunker faces are meant to be left natural with little or no interference from our staff. Nesting Boxes Bluebird Nest Boxes We have a total 16 nesting boxes throughout the golf course. The nesting boxes are placed in areas that are intended to promote the nesting of the Eastern blue to these locations. We typically see bluebird activity as early as the first week of April and up until the last week of October. Nesting boxes need to be cleaned in the spring and fall, making sure that no other bird species are using the houses. When found, sparrow nests need to be removed immediately Monitoring:
  • 4. The monitoring of the 16 bluebird boxes are checked on a weekly basis until the nestlings are two weeks old. The date, #eggs, #fledged and any additional notes recorded. See the bluebird section of the Audubon binder. Predators and Problems on the bluebird trail: The Perpetrators: AT = Ants GN = Gnats/black flies HW = House wrens RC = Raccoon ST = Starling BF = Blowflies HP = Hypothermia MI = Deer Mice RS = Red Squirrel TS = Tree Swallow CT = Cats HS = House Sparrow PC = Pesticide SN = Snake bb = bluebird Clues Nest Clue: Little sticks in box, often up to top, maybe over bb nest: HW male Clue: Feathers (usually white), on top of bb nest: TS Clue: Debris, paper, plant material along with grass nest, often circled high over hole:HS Clue: Shreds of bark, leaves, etc. filling box: RS Clue: Shreds of milkweed, seed and coneflower seed heads: MI Clue: Coarse grass mixed with green weeds. Eggs robin-sized, but lighter blue: ST Note: Nests with moss and fur-lined (chickadee); large grass with bits of shed snakeskin (crested flycatcher = hole enlarged); sheds of inner bark, fur, feathers, hair (nuthatch); all should be welcome if there are enough boxes. Eggs Clue: bb eggs suddenly disappear, nest undisturbed: HS, HW, SN, RC Clue: bb eggs disappear, nest partially pulled out of hole: RC, CT Clue: bb eggs shattered or ground or in nest: HW, HS, RS, and Chipmunk Clue: tiny holes pecked in eggs: HW Nestlings: Clue: Nestlings gone, nest intact, parents still around: CT, SN, HS, and HW Clue: Nestlings gone, nest partially pulled through hole. Grass below may be trampled, feathers around: CT, RC Clue: Nestlings suddenly dead in box, bodies unmarked, stomachs full, parents still around: PC Clue: Nestlings dead outside box, sometimes 1/day: HS Clue: Young nestlings dead in wet nest: HP Clue: Nestlings dead in nest, emaciated: Both parents dead. Clue: Nestlings mutilated in nest: HS, possibly MI, RC Clue: Female dead in box, head feathers and or eyes pecked out: HS Clue: Nestlings dead in nest, large red welts on bodies, black pupae or gray maggots under nest: BF Some Solutions
  • 5. AT = Ants. Slip a paste or liquid ant poison under nest. Or staple a Q-tip soaked in liquid ant poison under nest and bottom of house. Spray around box with pyrethrin. BF = Blowflies. If small cigar-shaped pupae or gray maggots are found near bottom of nest, lift nest with young and shake out as many insects as possible. Brush off floor. If highly infested, spray inside of box with pyrethrin. If nest is wet, replace with dry nest or grass. Check bodies of nestlings. CT = Cat. Usually feathers will be spread around. If cat is known and can’t be confined during nesting period, trim from claws. (trimmed & declawed cats can still climb) Use cat/coon guards on box, inverted cone below box, eliminate feral cats. GN = Gnats or black flies. Use pyrethrin spray for heavy swarms and infestation. Spray inside of box regularly until nestlings are 12-13 days old. HP = Hypothermia. Check nest boxes after heavy, slanting rains. Replace wet nest with new dry one or dry grass. Young nestlings may die if left in wet nest. Dampness also attracts blowflies. Extended rain with cold endangers both tree swallows and bluebirds. HS = House sparrow. Serious enemy of bluebirds. Will kill adult bluebirds and nestlings. Must be eliminated. Let sparrows start to nest, then trap in box. Destroy nest and eggs. Where feasible use baited ground trap. Sparrows are less apt to use Gilberston PVC nest box than larger wooden one. Do not start blue birding unless prepared to destroy house sparrows. HW = House wren. Keep male’s sticks removed from box, before female wren builds nest on top. (actual nest, eggs and birds are protected by law) Move bb boxes away from brush and trees at least 200-300 feet if possible. Do not try to solve problem by putting up wren boxes, which will only produce more wrens that eventually will go further into open areas to take bluebirds boxes and destroy eggs and young. MI = Deer Mice. Often nest over winter in closed boxes. Leave boxes open in winter if posts are climbable. Remove mouse nest with gloves or sticks – do not touch with bare hands and do not breathe in dust from box. PC = Pesticide poisoning. Usually a problem only during second nesting. Try to determine if poisons will be used nearby from a farmer, groundskeeper, gardener, lawn care company; seal boxes to prevent use. Take freshly dead nestlings to nearest DNR Nongame specialist for autopsy. Do not put boxes near lawn treated areas. RC = Raccoon. Use separate smooth, narrow metal posts if possible, or smoothly – wrapped tin on wood posts; cone guards on mounts; cat/coon guards on box. RS = Red Squirrel. Keep nest boxes sealed in winter or leave open. Climb-proof posts as above; keep away from trees and saplings from which squirrels can leap. SN = Snake. Climb-proof separate posts or grease heavily. ST = Starlings. Use starling trap. Eliminate. Be sure box entrance is minimum size for bluebirds (1 & 1/2” round: 1 & 3/8” x 2 & ¼” oval.) TS = Tree Swallow. Pair boxes 25-30’ with 300’ between pairs if swallows use more than 50% of boxes. Box locations and numbers are as follows:
  • 6. 1 & 2 – on the northeast side of the native are on #6 pond. 3 & 4 – on the east side of the “no mow” area & flower garden by #5 tees. 5 & 6 – in the “no mow” area between #11 green and #13 fairway. 7 & 8 – in the “no mow” area on the hill left of #13 approach. 9 & 10 – in the “no mow” area between # 9 and #10 fairways. 11 &12 – in the “no mow” area between #10 and #14 fairways next to the weather shelter. 13 & 14 – in the “no mow” area between #15, 16, & 17 on the east end. 15 & 16 – in the “no mow” area between #15, 16, & 17 on the west end. Wood Duck Houses We have a total of 11 Wood Duck houses throughout the golf course, with the majority of the houses positioned in locations close to our waterways. Houses are cleaned in the fall to remove any eggs that were dumped by the ducks. Houses are also cleaned in the spring and woodchips are added, prior to the arrival of the wood ducks in the spring, typically in late April/early May. Mallard Platforms A total of three Mallard platforms are placed on the ponds #8 and #9. The 8th pond has two platforms and #9 has the 3rd platform. These platforms are put out every spring and are removed in the fall. Any maintenance required happens in the winter and fresh straw placed in the baskets prior to being placed in the water. Bird Feeder Management Bird feeder management is an important management practice with our Audubon Program. Each fall, beginning around the first of November and ending around the first of April, we fill 5 bird feeding stations. These stations are intended to serve as either a staple diet or as a supplemental diet for many bird species throughout the property. The feeders are maintained and filled on a weekly basis. A birdseed mix from a local co- op, called Cardinal Mix and Deluxe Mix are blended with a ratio of 1:1. Suet packs are also added to three of the feeders for the birds to enjoy. Many squirrels are also able to enjoy the benefits of the feeders. Annual Bird Watch Our annual bird watch is held in conjunction with International Migratory Bird Day. This day is typically the second Saturday of May. Results are submitted to Audubon
  • 7. International following the event. Log on to www.auduboninternational.org to submit the results. Local bird watching expert Ann Kassen (651) 462-8487, leads our group onto the golf course to par-take in the watch. The event begins at 7:00am and we are typically finished by 9-9:30am. On a typical year we will identify 30-40 bird species. The best we were able to obtain was a total of 55 species in the spring of 2004. This is an excellent event for members as well as non-members to participate in. OBSERVED BIRDS AT MINIKAHDA (1992 to present) Great Blue Heron Belted Kingfisher Herring Gull Blue Jay Ringed-neck Gull Golden-crowned Kinglet Mallard Ruby-crowned Kinglet Wood Duck Ruby-throated Hummingbird Blue-Wing Teal House Wren American Coot Brown Thrasher Bufflehead Wood Thrush Cinnamon Teal Cedar Waxwing Lesser Scaup Tree Sparrow Northern Pintail House Sparrow Bluebill Chipping Sparrow Ringed-neck Pheasant Song Sparrow Horned Owl White-throated Sparrow Screech Owl Balled Eagle Red-winged Blackbird Sharp-shinned Hawk Red-tailed Hawk Common Grackle Common Nighthawk Common Crow Rough-legged Hawk Common Tern American Kestrel Scarlet Tananger Great Egret Harrier Mourning Dove Canada Goose Green Heron Yellow-bellied Flycatcher Downy Woodpecker Rock Dove (pigeon) Hairy Woodpecker Black-backed Woodpecker Yellow-bellied Sapsucker Indigo Bunting Common Flicker Eastern Phoebe Pleated Woodpecker Dark-eyed Junco Red-headed Woodpecker Veery Thrush White-breasted Nuthatch Solitary Vireo Brown Creeper Brewers Blackbird Palm Warbler Brown-headed Cowbird Yellow-rumped Warbler European Starling Cerulian Warbler Barn Swallow
  • 8. Blackpoll Warbler House Finch American Goldfinch Nashville Warbler Purple Finch Black & White Warbler Northern (Baltimore) Oriole Orange Crowned Warbler American Robin Hermit Thrush Cardinal Swainson Thrush Rose-breasted Grosbeak American Widgeon Gray Catbird Chimmney Swift Black-capped Chickadee Ovenbird Killdeer Water Management Ponds/Creek The creek that intersects the golf course is fed from Bass Creek, located in St. Louis Park. The Minnehaha Creek Watershed District holds jurisdiction over this waterway. This creek for their purposes is considered a ditch. It was back in the early 90’s when the club proceeded to build a series of three sediment ponds along the creek system. The need for the ponds was due largely to the flooding that would occur on the golf course when large amount of rainfall occurred. Ponds were dug on the 11th hole, behind the 8th tee and next to the 9th tee. In 2003 a fourth pond was dug at the beginning of the creek at the 13th hole. These ponds not only serve as flood control but are the main collection area for sediment. Dredging of the ponds is program that has been implemented in the past and is one that will be continued on a 5 year basis. Three out of the four ponds have a wetland grass buffer surrounding the perimeter. Between the water and the buffered area this are has been able to attract a wide array of bird and mammal species. Blue Heron, Egrets, Red-wing Blackbirds, Eastern Kingbird, Blue-wing teal, Mallard, Wood duck, Bufflehead, Common Merganser, Black-capped Night Heron, Green Heron, American Bittern and Belted Kingfisher are just a fraction of the bird species that we have identified around the ponds. Mink, snapping turtles, painted turtles, White-tailed deer, raccoon, Red tailed Fox and muskrat are also just a few examples of mammals and reptiles that visit and share the use of our ponds and wetlands ecosystem. There is a total of 51,000 sq.ft. of ponds and creek at 13, 11, 8, and 9 and 28,200 sq.ft. at the 6th pond. Which is a total of 1.81 surface acres. Irrigation Water Management In 2002-03 The Minikahda Club installed a new irrigation system. Complete with new piping, sprinkler heads and control system. A total of 1155 sprinkler heads were installed. Of those heads 40%, or 464 heads, are Part-circle. Many of the part-circle
  • 9. heads boarder the perimeter of the property, but many of these heads have also been positioned around natural areas as well as a few that are located around our fairway fescue bunkers. On a typically year we will pump anywhere from 19 million to 30 million gallons of water. On average we will use less than 25 million gallons in a season. Wildlife Beginning in the spring of 2005 the club embarked on a plan to increase the amount of plant material surrounding the perimeter of the golf course, in large part to screen the outside traffic from the interior of the golf course. Since the implementation of this program we have planted over 1000 trees, shrubs and vines along the perimeter of the golf course. The beauty of this project is not only the fact the membership will be able to enjoy a more private feel to the golf course, but once mature we will have also improved the habitat environment for many species of wildlife. Out of the 155 acres of property that The Minikahda Club consists of approximately 36.54 acres are wooded and are left virtually untouched and un-maintained. OBSERVED NON-BIRD WILDLIFE AT MINIKHADA (1992 - present) White-tailed Deer Red Fox Red Squirrel Gray Squirrel Chipmunk Raccoon Muskrat Cottontail Rabbit Striped Gopher Ground Hog Field Mouse Painted Turtle Snapping Turtle Brown Bat Carp Mink Snails