Thursday, June 14, 2007

Golf Course Audubon Scam

Golf courses are recognizing the need to tout their “green credentials” but not surprisingly, those credentials might be worthless. Case in point is the golf course Audubon scam unveiled in this report on a Panamanian golf course:
As if they hadn't already problems enough as it is with workers on strike and increasing hostility towards their development on the ground, the troubled Red Frog Beach development in Bocas del Toro has now been caught in a golf course scam.

On their website, they were claiming that a planned golf course "will be approved by the Audubon Society for meeting their high, environmental standards." However, that claim is totally false. Writes John Bianchi, communications director of the Audubon Society: "The Audubon Society does not establish or certify ''bird-friendly'' golf courses. The National Audubon Society was founded to protect birds and other wildlife, and their natural habitats."

So what's going on? Bianchi again: "There is a group called Audubon International that claims to certify golf courses. But this group has no connection to the National Audubon Society, which does not designate or certify golf courses as sanctuaries."

This Audubon International outfit, we learned, is largely funded by the US Golf Association. They're sort of certifying themselves while masquerading as a well respected bird protection organization.

At least one WNC golf course, Broadmoor in Mills River south of Asheville is marketing their "Audubon certified sanctuary" status. For more on the mixup between the Audubon Society and Audubon International, here are excerpts from a news story on the name confusion at a Tampa golf course:

To Audubon Society officials, Audubon International is like an evil twin who constantly causes trouble. They say developers frequently promise a golf course project is going to be "Audubon-certified," while Audubon Society members are unaware of or opposed to the project.

"When Audubon International certifies a golf course, it clearly creates a lot of confusion in the mind of the general public," said Charles Lee, senior vice president of Audubon of Florida. "There are cases where the developers go in and get some upfront connection to Audubon International and they wave that around in the government hearings." It happened last month in Tampa.

Environmental activists were questioning the plans for Grand Hampton, a new 1,600-home golf community planned in New Tampa that would plop down houses, apartments, businesses and an 18-hole golf course next door to the Cypress Creek Preserve, a watershed that feeds into the Hillsborough River, the city's main source of drinking water. So the developers' attorney, Joel Tew of Clearwater, promised that the project would meet Audubon standards. That surprised the board of the Tampa Audubon Society. ...

I guess the bottom line is this - the good folks at Audubon International might not know a warbler from a condor, but they sure do care about those birdies and eagles.

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