Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Hearing scheduled to challenge Montgomery County pesticide ban

On May 17 at 9:30 a.m., the Circuit Court for Montgomery County will hear oral arguments challenging part of bill 52-14, which prohibits the use of certain “cosmetic” pesticides on private lawns and is scheduled to go into effect on January 1, 2018. Although golf received an exemption from this ban, the industry still needs to have a bead on such legislation that bans products that are otherwise approved by the EPA for labeled use.

The hearing is expected to last about 1.5 hours, and Judge Terrence McGann will hear arguments. The plaintiffs include six local businesses and seven residents. On January 18, the judge ordered that this case be consolidated with a similar case filed by Scotts, et al.

RISE (Responsible Industry for Sound Environment) has been organizing a grassroots effort to oppose this bill since the bill’s introduction back in 2015. While the bill was ultimately passed later that year, RISE has since been working with local stakeholders to challenge it.

The complaint put forward by the plaintiffs is that the bill is pre-empted by state law, which makes the ban illegal. Likewise, the plaintiffs cite that this bill, if it were to go in to effect, could damage homeowners, state-certified pesticide applicators, small businesses and their employees, and others who have depended on these pesticides to maintain healthy lawns and control insect and weed pests.

Maryland law comprehensively regulates the sale and use of pesticides across the state, and the pesticides banned in bill 52-14 have been licensed and approved by state regulators. Furthermore, the Montgomery County Council passed this bill despite having been advised by the Office of the Maryland Attorney General that the ban was likely preempted by state law.

RISE advises that, while appearing in the court room is different than appearing in a county hearing, it is important that concerned parties have a strong and visible presence of residents and businesses in the courtroom to support the plaintiffs. The County Circuit Courthouse is located at 50 Maryland Avenue, across from the County Council Building and next to the Executive Building in downtown Rockville. Judge McGann’s courtroom is 8C on the 8th floor of the North Tower of the courthouse.

Depending on the court’s schedule, a decision on the case is expected sometime in August. 

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Pennsylvania chapters collaborate for BMPs

Implementation of Best Management Practices (BMPs)/BMP based plans are the standard route for protecting or improving the environment and water quality. Spend any time on the EPA’s website and you’ll find BMPs for agriculture, protecting pollinators, watershed models and determining nutrient loads. The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) relies heavily on BMPs within agriculture as well as many other industries which have their BMPs. They are the actions by which progress is achieved.

The term “best management practice” has many different connotations. Best Management Practices can range from “structural or engineered features” such as a detention pond or vegetated swales to “non-structural” agronomic practices [fertilization, integrated pest management (IPM), and irrigation] that are deemed “best” for the management of a particular venue. Most often, BMPs within the regulatory framework are linked to the passing of the 1973 Clean Water Act (CWA) by the United States Congress. Section 303(d) of the CWA requires states to establish Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) for impaired waters on a prioritized schedule. TMDLs establish the maximum amount of a pollutant that a water body can assimilate without causing a violation of water quality standards. Considering the proactive nature of the golf course industry and our commitment to environmental stewardship, BMP development efforts help us adhere to TMDL standards, but they also do more.

In golf, BMPs represent a framework for a sustainable approach to golf course management. As GCSAA has established a goal of helping all 50 states create BMP models by 2020, Pennsylvania is gearing up for the process.

Like some know, we have a BMP manual that was constructed back in 2009, but with little buy-in from our members across the state. This time around, as we work on “version 2” that can be implemented with GCSAA’s new robust BMP template tool, we will work through the process with member engagement, member updates, and representation from our state regulatory agency, the Department of Environmental Protection. Representation from DEP is important so that they are bought in to our BMPs, and have documentation for how golf is addressing environmental management, TMDLs and the like. Furthermore, we will need representation from our land-grant University, Penn State, to review the science behind the BMPs and validate their credibility.

As we move forward, we will establish a BMP steering committee comprised of representation from all six chapters, myself, a PSU Turf Professor, and a representative from DEP. GCSAA will be distributing grants later this year to help pay for the development and publication of these BMPs, and PA plans on submitting a grant application. Fortunately, the costs associated with BMP development will be greatly minimized with the help of the GCSAA BMP Template, which is already populated with dozens and dozens of BMPs designed for golf course management.

With BMPs providing the framework for sustainability in the future, it gives us one more tool to show our communities, stakeholders, customers, and governments that we are proud land managers with a commitment to sustainability.

Note: Written in part by Mark Johnson, GCSAA Associate Director of Environmental Programs

Saturday, March 4, 2017

VGCSA representatives trek to state capitol

Posting courtesy of David Norman, VGCSA

Recently, VGCSA representatives Mark Cote, Scott Mauldin, Pete Stephens, David Norman and Tyler Eastham visited with state senators and delegates at the General Assembly. They visited each representative's office, offering a gift bag with important information about our association and the industry. A thumb drive with the BMP, our mission statement and a postcard highlighting our stewardship were all included.

After the visit to the General Assembly, the VGCSA representatives headed to the House of Delegates and Senate Chambers. They were introduced to the floor by Senator David Marsden who noted the $2.5 billion economic impact to the state and the 30,000 Virginians that are employed by the industry. The annual trip is important to building and strengthening the relationships with our elected officials.

Scott Mauldin, CGCS, Mark Cote and Pete Stephens at the Rotunda 

VGCSA President Mark Cote visits with Senator David Marsden

Monday, January 23, 2017

PA golf meets with Susquehanna River Basin Commission

On January 10, the local golf community of central and eastern Pennsylvania met with staff of the Susquehanna River Basin Commission (SRBC) to discuss rules and regulations for “consumptive” users withdrawing from the Susquehanna River Basin. Fifteen representatives from the golf industry including golf course superintendents, owners, irrigation specialists and industry representatives were in attendance for the two-hour meeting.

The SRBC’s mission is to enhance public welfare through comprehensive planning, water supply allocation, and management of the water resources of the Susquehanna River Basin. In short, golf courses pay the SRBC for water they withdraw from the river basin. The SRBC has a responsibility to protect the water of the basin and make sure there is enough for all users, but also make sure there is enough water emptying into the Chesapeake Bay at an acceptable quality.

The meeting was solicited by stakeholders in the golf industry as a way to touch base with the SRBC, talk about the current state of the golf industry, and share our perspective regarding irrigation withdrawals from the Susquehanna River Basin. The price of water was also discussed ($0.33/1,000 gallons of water). Since golf is a consumptive user (more than 10,000 gallons per day on a 30-day average), each course withdrawing from the basin is required to apply for a docket.

When a docket is close to expiring, the SRBC requires a complete review. New approvals are effective when old dockets expire, and new dockets last 15 years. Original dockets used to be longer, up to 25 years. In order to continue operation, new applications must be submitted six months prior to expiration. Costs to renew dockets can vary greatly. In some cases, a waiver can mitigate testing fees. Otherwise, applicants are required to perform aquifer testing and planning so starting the process years in advance is smart. Consumptive use regulations have been in place since 1971, and in the 90’s the SRBC started an effort to track down users.

The take-home message was this: Many golf courses are up for review as time nears to re-apply. The SRBC advises that conversations should begin five years prior to docket expiration. The industry also raised its concerns with the cost of this re-application for a new docket, as it can be quite a large fee for courses that may already be operating on thin margins.

Other items discussed were drought mitigation plans, the effect of oil and gas industry on the river basin’s water, and golf’s role in re-charging ground water. We hope to host similar meetings in the future.

Upcoming events

  • Jan. 26: Golf. My Future. My Game. Student event, STEM education in golf, Washington, D.C.
  • Jan. 30-Feb. 2: Mid-Atlantic Turfgrass Expo, Fredericksburg, Va.
  • Feb. 2: Golf. My Future. My Game. Student reception celebrating STEM education, Chevy Chase, Md.
  • Feb. 4-6: GCSAA Golf Championships, Orlando, Fla.
  • Feb. 6-9: Golf Industry Show, Orlando, Fla.
  • Feb. 22: MAAGCS Winter Education Meeting, Clarksville, Md.
  • Feb. 28: Penn State Turf Club meeting

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Help wanted: cultivating young professionals

GCSAA is often asked what we are doing to recruit new talent into the field, as well as what value are we providing to student members. Did you know that a student member can maintain a student membership for up to 24 months after graduation, so long as the student is not in a golf course management role? It’s true.

Furthermore, students have access to live and on-demand webinars. They have access to the job board, valuable scholarship opportunities, and an important resume critiquing service which can prove vital in landing the right job.

With regard to GIS, students are entitled to a free full registration, student hotel room block (special rates), 50-percent-off discount member pricing for seminars, access to student booth area, free professional headshots, and a student reception event.

In 2017, GCSAA is taking the following steps to enhance student engagement:

  • Student recruitment before college: GCSAA staff will participate at high school, FFA National Conference and Tradeshow, Vocational Tech School career day events to inform students of golf industry careers. We will provide superintendents tools (marketing packets and PowerPoint presentations) to engage with students at their local career events. GCSAA staff will participate in First Green and First Tee events across the country.
  • Mentorship program: By engaging students with assistant superintendents and superintendents, this program will facilitate career growth and upward mobility. This will be a software platform that will allow them to engage in a private arena to facilitate open communication.
  • Internship program: GCSAA will provide superintendents the tools to create active learning environments for students. Students will be provided with checklists for a productive internship experience. GCSAA will provide the means for them to communicate and reach each other.
  • Student Listserve: Students will be supplied with a Listserve communication tool. This will enable them to directly receive information that is pertinent to them. Student events, student internships, and networking opportunities will be communicated through the Listserve. They will also be able to network and engage with students across the globe.
  • Student chapter engagement: GCSAA will be making visits to universities and colleges that have GCSAA student chapters. We will offer speakers and educational content that they can choose from for their turf club meetings. We will be working with the GCSAA affiliated superintendent chapter to engage them with their student chapter.

As we look forward, GCSAA will continue to enhance these programs as to guarantee the success of our field heading to the future.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Opportunity waits at GCSAA Golf Championships

Think the GCSAA Golf Championships aren’t for you? Think again.

Think they are only for scratch golfers? Not so. In fact, there is an event for every skill level.

Think your employer will never go for it? We have a resource to help your justification.

In my years with GCSAA, I’ve always been pleasantly surprised at how highly members speak of the annual tournaments. Specifically, the relaxed atmosphere, the extensive networking that takes place, and the lasting friendships forged through the experience. Not to mention, the world-class venues that will highlight this year's event.

Furthermore, your participation benefits the EIFG, and will help ensure continued success in key initiatives rooted in advocacy, education, research, and scholarships. Still not sold? Here is a list of other benefits:

  • Fun contests and prizes
  • Luxury accomodations at less than half the normal rack-rate
  • Flexible schedule: play one, two, or three days
  • Complimentary breakfast and on-course beverages
  • Fantastic tee prizes including equipment, apparel, and accessories
  • Skeet shooting event at welcoming reception
  • Great network of sponsors to add value
  • And more!

Learn more: See scheduling and register.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Local superintendents to partake in leadership academy

Three superintendents from the Mid-Atlantic region will be attending the 2017 Golf Industry Show in Orlando on a fully-paid scholarship as part of the EIFG's Melrose Leadership Academy. The Melrose Leadership Academy supports the professional development of GCSAA members, and is set up to provide up to 20 scholarships every year.

Please join me in congratulating:

  • Thomas R. Bass Jr., Falling River Country Club in Appomattox, Va.
  • Eric Pockl, CGCS, The Club at Blackthorne in Jeanneatte, Pa.
  • Derrick S. Wozniak, Radley Run Country Club in West Chester, Pa.

Find out more on this year's winners.

The Melrose Leadership Academy was established in 2012 by Ken Melrose, retired CEO and chairman of the board of The Toro Co., and is supported by a $1 million gift to the EIFG from The Kendrick B. Melrose Family Foundation. This program will have a positive impact for each superintendent selected and ultimately, the game of golf.