Riverbend Ranch Golf Club has achieved designation as a "Certified Cooperative Sanctuary" by the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary System (ACSS), the educational division of Audubon International. Michael F. Stieler, Superintendent, has led the effort to obtain sanctuary status on this course and is being recognized for Environmental Stewardship by Audubon International. Riverbend Ranch Golf Club is the first Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary in the Central San Joaquin Valley, the 18th course in California, and the 405th in the world to receive the honor.
Riverbend Ranch Golf Club is located in southeastern Madera County, just a few minutes north of Fresno's metropolitan area. It is part of a master planned community amidst the Rio Mesa Development Project. Inside the course layout, over 100 acres have been designated as natural wildlife areas. The course resides in a unique setting along the banks of the San Joaquin River and takes full advantage of the natural terrain, which provides unobstructed views of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. The course is balanced in a link style that incorporates majestic valley oaks and pristine habitat, enhanced with six beautiful lakes and continuous paths.
"Riverbend Ranch Golf Club has shown a strong commitment to its environmental program. They are to be commended for their efforts to provide a sanctuary for wildlife on the golf course property," said Joellen Zeh, Staff Ecologist for the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary System.
"Riverbend opened in 1999 and has earned a reputation as a player's course, as well as one that every golfer of any skill level can enjoy and play day after day," stated Stieler. "The layout provides up to 7072 yards of challenging golf from the championship tees and 5136 yards from the forward tees. With five sets of tees, every player can find the best fit for their game, which will challenge them over and over again. Riverbend has served as host to a number of nationally recognized amateur tournaments and is currently the home facility for the Save Mart Shootout. This is a professional exhibition featuring such notable golfers as Arnold Palmer, Peter Jacobsen, Nancy Lopez, and Julie Inkster."
"To reach certification, a course must demonstrate that they are maintaining a high degree of environmental quality in a number of areas," explained Zeh. These categories include: Environmental Planning, Wildlife and Habitat Management, Outreach and Education, Chemical Use Reduction and Safety, Water Conservation, and Water Quality Management.
"The ACSS has allowed Riverbend Ranch Golf Club to inform the public of its part in successfully sustaining and enhancing the environment," explained Stieler. "Being a Superintendent at a Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Golf Course is a great privilege and something we proudly draw upon daily. The ACSS gives us a way of documenting environmental preservation and being credited for these efforts. In the past, Superintendents have not been viewed as Environmental Stewards, but in fact, threshold tolerances, buffer areas, water quality, and many other environmental ingenuities have long been priorities of the industry. And thanks to Audubon International, Golf Course Superintendents all over the world have many opportunities to achieve environmental recognition in the public eye."
The Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary System for Golf Courses, endorsed by the United States Golf Association, provides information and guidance to help golf courses preserve and enhance wildlife habitat, and protect natural resources. Golf courses from the United States, Australia, Canada, Central America, Europe, and Southeast Asia have also achieved certification in the program.
In addition to golf courses, the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary System also provides programs for schools, individuals and businesses. For more information, contact: