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State Parks and USGA Tee Up Sustainability Practices for the U.S. Open Championship

The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and the United States Golf Association recently detailed a range of sustainability practices that will be employed during the 2009 U.S. Open Championship, in keeping with the responsible environmental stewardship worthy of Bethpage State Park.

“State Parks is committed to integrating sustainability principles throughout our parks operations,” said State Parks Commissioner Carol Ash. “Efforts during the U.S. Open demonstrate that even at large-scale public events, steps can be taken to introduce environmentally sound initiatives in a balanced and common-sense manner.”

“The USGA has long been committed to improving the relationship between golf and the environment,” said Reg Jones, the managing director of the U.S. Open. “Environmental considerations can be integrated into the operations of our championships, and we are pleased to work with New York State Parks and our vendors to make this happen.”

Ash noted that State Parks has made a long-term environmental commitment to the Black Course at Bethpage State Park. The Black is a certified course with the Audubon International’s Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf Courses, including protecting 42 acres of grassland habitat and 110 woodland acres; native plants, bird-friendly plants and nest boxes on the golf course, as well as shoreline vegetation around water features.

In addition, Bethpage State Park has also been honored with an Excellence in IPM Award from Cornell University’s New York State Integrated Pest Management Program for its leadership in bringing ‘greener’ pest control techniques to the facility. Bethpage State Park golf courses have been involved in the Cornell program for the past eight years, contributing greatly to the research necessary to improve IPM practices. IPM techniques employ detailed surveillance and proactive steps such as eliminating weeds by hand or mechanical treatments; using ultra-sonic repellents and snap traps; and early detection of insect nests and hives, with the use of chemicals only as a last resort.

“The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation has the vision to see that the game of golf can and should be environmentally responsible,” said Dr. Donald A. Rutz, Director of the New York State IPM Program. “Bethpage State Park is leading the way in golf course IPM practices and is positively affecting golf course management throughout the U.S. and beyond.”

As part of the U.S. Open Championship, State Parks and the USGA are encouraging U.S. Open spectators to use public transportation, which will ease congestion and reduce fuel consumption and greenhouse gases. Natural gas-fueled buses will be available to transport spectators from the Long Island Rail Road to the grounds. In addition, the facility will provide bicycle parking for ticketed spectators who travel to Bethpage by bicycle. Bottle and can receptacles will be placed in accessible locations throughout the grounds to make recycling easy for spectators.

The USGA has made a concerted effort to adopt sustainable strategies including reducing the waste generated during the event and using recycled products at concession, hospitality and merchandise tents wherever possible. Further steps include:

• Using post-consumer recycled paper products such as napkins and plates as well as biodegradable corn-based cups and post-consumer waste merchandise bags;

• Using environmentally responsible cleaning products to maintain tents and portable restrooms;

• Using post-consumer waste paper products in all portable restroom facilities, as well as hand sanitizer to reduce paper waste;

• Reusing U.S. Open infrastructure elements such as tent materials, grandstands, fencing and fixtures as much as possible;

• Placing the USGA Championship Media Guide online for credentialed media; and

• Training staff and vendors to support the above initiatives.

The U.S. Open will be held at the Black Course of Bethpage State Park June 15-21. The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation oversees 178 state parks and 35 historic sites. For more information on any of these recreation areas, call 518-474-0456 or visit www.nysparks.com.