Thursday, February 15, 2024

Rewilding: Golf Courses


The NY Times has an article today on the trend to rehabilitate old golf courses into parks and wildlife corridors and return them to their natural state.

This may seem odd, but the United States has a glut of golf courses. They have been overbuilt AND younger people are not picking up golf at the rate to sustain them (as older customers age out of it). Furthermore, in the years since the boom in building golf courses, the hefty ecological impacts have been investigated. 

1) Golf courses use massive amounts of water. And when you realize that many of them are in the desert, you can imagine how much more water they use than average.

2) Golf courses use a LOT of pesticides and herbicides to keep those courses nice and pristine. And, we already laid out how much water they use, so leaching of these chemicals occurs into ground water and runoff.

3) Golf courses tend to alter the natural environment. They redirect streams and remove endemic plants, reducing any wildfield that may have lived there. One course that has been rehabilitated and shown in the images sits between two parcels of California public land. Rewilding this course led to opening the wildlife corridor again and providing a public space for the residents nearby.

None of this is to say that golf courses are evil and should be removed. But IF a course is closed, rewilding is infinitely preferable to paving over the course for warehouses or big box stores - which is how the majority are converted now.

Since 2006, more golf courses have closed than opened due to economic pressure, not due to public outrage. Turning these into rewilding sites provides many more possibilities for general use and promotes the natural environment.

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