A former golf club member at Redwoods has criticized the number of old growth cedars that have recently been removed, but golf course manager Doug Hawley has defended the action.
In a letter to The Times, Murrayville resident Rodger Kelly urged Redwoods to “cease and desist.”
“It is one thing to manage ‘our’ golf course, but quite another to destroy the intrinsic value of the land,” Kelly said.
On a recent return to play on the course, Kelly was “surprised at the amount of earth-moving equipment at work within the boundaries of ‘our’ golf course. Even more disturbing was the absence of many of the old growth cedar trees which gave the course its character, and made it such an attractive place to play. No one could help but notice that many more of these beautiful old cedars are presently marked for imminent logging.”
The Township bought the 175-acre course for $4 million in 2005. In an agreement with Redwoods, the Township forfeits property taxes for 20 years and pays Redwoods $50,000 a year for maintenance and improvements. Redwoods retains the right to operate the course for 20 years, and spend $100,000 in capital improvements each year.
Redwoods pays income and business taxes.
Hawley, son-in-law of Larry Hope who started Redwoods, explained that 11 trees have been felled, three because they were considered hazardous and the others to bring more sunlight onto the 11th green.
“The primary reason for removing the eight trees was to reduce the large amount of fungicides used on that particular green, “ Hawley said. A lack of sunlight increases diseases, prompting the need for fungicide, he added.
“Sunlight is an extremely vital part of keeping a healthy stand of turf grass,” he said.
Approximately six large cedars and several smaller trees and shrubs will be removed from the 15th green, Hawley said, adding that the 13th green has two hazardous trees which will also be removed.
Redwoods compensates for the loss of the trees. More than 20 new trees are planted every year in locations that won’t hinder turf quality on the putting surfaces, Hawley said.
Referring to Premier Christy Clark’s support for a private member’s bill for a province-wide pesticide ban, Hawley said that “the Redwoods’ philosophy on tree removal has not changed (and) we make every attempt possible to save as much natural area as possible as that is what makes Redwoods unique to other golf courses. We are taking a proactive approach on reducing the amount of pesticides applied.”
He said Redwoods prides itself in using as few plant protection products as possible.
“As we do provide an important recreational pastime for local residents, it was important to maintain this important public product by increasing sunlight on a couple of our greens sites without hurting any of the surrounding natural vegetation and wildlife.”
Hawley said that all salvageable timber will be used to build gazebos and fencing on the course.