Across the street from an airport, Ironwood Golf Course has been a certified nature sanctuary since the turn of the century.
Every three years, the course has to prove its dedication to the environment. On Thursday, Audubon International re-certified the course.
The city spent about $700,000 last year to keep Ironwood running. While there are about 900 certified courses in the world, Ironwood is the only golf course in Gainesville currently considered a sanctuary by the organization.
“It’s something you can be proud of,” said Jeff Cardozo, the golf course’s interim manager. “And it just shows people that we are cognizant of all the other great things that Gainesville has to offer as far as nature.”
Tara Donadio, director of Cooperative Sanctuary Programs at Audubon, said that certification is a self-driven process, but when they take the time, there can be many benefits.
“It’s good for them to build bonds with their community and explain the good work they are doing,” Donadio said.
To keep its sanctuary status, Ironwood has to continue to preserve the wildlife areas on its property and spur wildlife growth.
The key to this year’s certification was a bird house project, Cardozo said.
“The particular project that we did for this re-certification was we put a bunch of bird houses out there so that allows little finches and native birds to come in and explore,” he said.
Volunteer projects, like the bird house project, help the golf course avoid additional costs. When birdwatchers want to take the golf carts out, they are not charged, since Ironwood is considered a city park.
Bruce Brimley, employee of Wild Birds Unlimited and local bird watcher, said coming to Ironwood is refreshing because the course cares about its environment.
“It is definitely nice when I do golf to see wildlife around the golf course,” Brimely said.
Cardozo also said that as long as he is there, environment will continue to be maintained and stay a priority.
“That’s what Gainesville is in my opinion,” he said. “It’s the trees, it’s the wildlife, it’s the nature, and it’s being able to provide a home.”