Golf Course Management magazine is dedicated to advancing the golf course superintendent profession and helping GCSAA members achieve career success.
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36 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 03.14 It was Tuesday, April 2, and my day as the executive director for the Minnesota Golf Course Superintendents Association had started out fairly normal. Then the "call to arms" came from the Minnesota Golf As - sociation. The state's House fnance commit- tee was going to implement a tenfold increase in water permit fees upon golf courses across the state. What was worse, golf was being tar - geted, as the game is perceived to have deep pockets, be a polluter of the environment and a water waster. Fortunately for the state's golf industry, the MGCSA board of directors had been active in recent years discussing environmental steward - ship, BMPs, water conservation, nutrient fate and sustainable turf management practices. Specialists had been brought in for educating our members, other successful state programs (Florida, Pennsylvania, Colorado and Geor - gia) were studied, water crisis conferences were attended and professional support was sought from GCSAA and our own University of Minnesota. The MGCSA had done its homework and knew the issues. The result was a fairly comprehensive envi - ronmental stewardship program that focused on water quality and availability. It included BMPs, crisis water management, pollution control implementations and even told the "good story" of golf courses. The package was introduced to the state's four big golf industry allies with the intention of uniting all of golf 's strong leaders and presenting an industry-reg - ulated response to an impending water crisis for the Department of Natural Resources' (DNR) review and endorsement. From there we hoped to have a policy put into law protect - ing our water rights. Unfortunately, not all great plans make it to fruition, and our conception became mired in bureaucratic mud as the DNR went through administration changes. Although the initia - tive seemed to be dead in the water, we found a new champion for our plan through indi - rect networking. Several years ago, the MGCSA had begun reaching out to public and private entities in search of allies and potential detractors. Through volunteer member support, the MGCSA established a presence at import- ant state Senate and House hearings regard- ing water resources. We joined our green ally, the Minnesota Nursery and Landscape Asso - ciation, for "Day on the Hill" activities. And perhaps of most importance, the association had representation at many agency meetings through a new relationship with the Environ - mental Initiative, a non-proft organization whose mission was to bring public and pri - vate groups together to solve nature-related challenges. Last August saw the frst of three meetings thus far with the Minnesota Bureau of Water and Soil Resources, the umbrella agency for all state agencies including the DNR, Department of Agriculture and Pollution Control Agency. Our friends at the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources have recommended that the Minnesota golf industry develop a program that would emulate the Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certifcation Pro - gram as promoted by the Department of Ag- riculture. The DNR would have infuence upon water quantity and the Minnesota EPA's water quality decisions. The goal for all enti - ties would be resource "certainty" in exchange for environmental stewardship. Courses that participate in the program would receive assur - ances that they would not lose their economic viability due to excessive regulation. The MGCSA appreciates that the process has only just begun and the hoped-for state statutes are years down the road. However, the challenges associated with environmen - tal stewardship are not new, and the "Land of 10,000 Lakes" is not immune to the misper - ceptions the public has of golf and golf courses. Through education, the creation of coalitions, continuous presence and networking, the as - sociation has come a long way in ensuring the availability of the resources necessary for pro - fessional turf managers to do their job. Jack MacKenzie, CGCS, is the executive director of the Minnesota Golf Course Superintendents Association and a 32-year life member of GCSAA. Journey begins in Minnesota (Advocacy) Jack MacKenzie, CGCS firstname.lastname@example.org Several years ago, the MGCSA had begun reaching out to public and private entities in search of allies and potential detractors. 036-037_March14_Adocacy.indd 36 2/18/14 1:44 PM