Bella Vista, AR–where birds, bees, and golf balls co-exist.

BELLA VISTA, ARKANSAS – Berksdale Golf Course has achieved designation as a “Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary” through the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf Courses. Wendy Barnes, Assistant Golf Course Superintendent, completed the effort to obtain sanctuary designation on the property. Berksdale Golf Course is one of over 900 courses in the world to hold the title of Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary

Berksdale has undergone numerous transformations over the last decade, but our dedication to stewardship has been unwavering. Our commitment to pursuing the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf provides an independent assessment of our efforts.

We are pleased to announce that Berksdale has been certified in all categories required to qualify for full status in this global partnership. After a year of data collection and assessing site parameters, we were awarded recognition for Environmental Planning in September of 2016.Devastating floods led Berksdale to transition from an 18 to a 9-hole course, yet we persevered to receive certifications for an Environmental Case Study and our Wildlife and Habitat Management in May of 2018. With sampling and testing assistance from the POA’s Lakes Department, we were recognized for Water Quality Management and for Water Conservation April 2019. March 27th of this year, we were informed that our Chemical Use Reduction and Safety and Outreach and Education efforts meet all of Audubon International’s criteria.A site visit will be conducted when travel constraints ease, hopefully this fall. Berksdale will then become only the second course in Arkansas and one of the few in the region to be receive this prestigious Cooperative Sanctuary designation.“Berksdale Golf Course has shown a strong commitment to its environmental program. They are to be commended for their efforts to provide a sanctuary for wildlife on the golf course property,” said Christine Kane, CEO at Audubon International.“To reach certification, a course must demonstrate that they are maintaining a high degree of environmental quality in a number of areas,” explained Kane. These categories include: Environmental Planning, Wildlife & Habitat Management, Outreach and Education, Chemical Use Reduction and Safety, Water Conservation, and Water Quality Management. Berksdale Golf Course’s accomplishments include:

  • Extensive native acreage on the property
  • Reducing irrigated areas to conserve water
  • Establishing buffers around water bodies
  • Providing Excellent Wildlife Habitat
  • Conducting water quality testing

Wendy Barnes says, “Audubon International gave a framework for building on our vision of the course as an integral part of the local ecology. The guidance they provided allowed Berksdale to focus on priority projects, such as increasing buffer zones around waterways. AI’s resources aided in identifying additional practices easily integrated into our maintenance routine, like leaving brush piles undisturbed for wildlife cover. The challenge of achieving certification has been exceptionally educational and rewarding.”The Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf Courses, endorsed by the United States Golf Association, provides information and guidance to help golf courses preserve and enhance wildlife habitat and protect natural resources. Golf courses from the United States, Africa, Australia, Canada, Central America, Europe, New Zealand, and Southeast Asia have achieved certification in the program.Berksdale is uniquely situated as one of Bella Vista’s seven popular golf courses, as well as connecting with the burgeoning trail system in Northwest Arkansas. Berksdale evolved throughout the certification process, moving from an 18 hole to 9-hole course after extreme flooding of Little Sugar Creek. The North Nine has been restructured, lending a more historical ambiance to the game, while the South End invites casual recreation. The native diversity of flora and fauna has thrived under Audubon International’s sanctuary guidelines, enhancing the outdoor experience for golfers and other lovers of nature.Audubon International is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in Troy, NY. In addition to golf courses, Audubon International also provides programs for businesses, schools, communities, and new developments with the purpose of delivering high-quality environmental education and facilitating the sustainable management of natural resources. For more information, call Audubon International at 1-844-767-9051 or visit