For years, the Chesapeake Bay watershed has been undergoing a major cleanup initiative. As part of this initiative, golf has been engaged on varying levels from state to state. In Virginia, the VGCSA worked with the Virginia Department of Conservation to create a model that would require every golf course to have a nutrient management plan written by a certified nutrient management planner. In Maryland, the state enacted a nutrient applicator certification, not dissimilar from a pesticide applicator’s license, which requires continuing education to keep the license current.
However, in Pennsylvania, the state has been slow to mandate any type of specific program, as they have relied more heavily on voluntary programs to achieve the same goal – reducing nutrients that enter the bay through runoff, erosion, and leaching. What type of programs? Mostly education, funding for programs such as stream bank restoration, and programs centering on Best Management Practices.
But that could change soon. Recently, state legislation was proposed in Pennsylvania that would require some type of combination for a nutrient applicator certification and/or written nutrient management plans. We don’t have specifics of the legislation yet, but sources say that without certification or a written plan, the applicator would be subject to restricted application rates. But yet again, we don’t yet have those details.
Regardless, it doesn’t sound like this legislation should be too overbearing for golf course superintendents. Maybe there is even a chance that golf would be exempt from this bill. But one thing is for sure, this certainly further emphasizes our need to update our BMP manual and publish it on the GCSAA website so that we can begin facility adoption. BMPs are by far the best advocacy tool we can use to show the state legislator that we are being responsible with our nutrient application.
We are moving much closer to publication of our BMPs, and will even have a separate website similar to this one in Delaware, that will be very useful for sharing and promoting our responsible practices with the greater community, including our state legislator.
As we learn more about this matter, I will keep you updated. For now, continue to use your nutrients responsibly and look to adopt a facility BMP as soon as our state model is published, hopefully no later than early 2020. And as always, continue to promote our responsible environmental stewardship to the local and greater community at large!