Golf Course Appendix comments


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Fred Harris, Chief

Division of Inland Fisheries


Mallory G. Martin, Regional Supervisor

Division of Inland Fisheries


August 1, 2002


References for stream protection recommendations

Attached are comme
nts and references in support of recommendations made on permit reviews
for golf course construction in Watauga and Yancey counties. These references represent only a
small percentage of the available scientific literature concerning issues of sedimentati
on, habitat
alterations, and impacts to fish and wildlife populations.

Please advise me if this additional reference material meets your needs. If there are specific
recommendations that would benefit from additional references, I’m certain the appropr
material can be found. Thanks.

Effects on fish and wildlife populations and their habitats from golf course construction have
been documented extensively. Degradation of aquatic environments resulting from golf course
construction are attributed t
o numerous causes, including sedimentation, channelization, direct
loss of vegetation and habitat, nutrient loading, and stream temperature elevation (Brewin 1992).
Stream habitat alterations associated with golf courses include base
flow reductions, inte
pollutant incidences, pond construction, lack of forested buffers, streamside mowing, and
channelization (Klein 1989). Moreover, the indirect and cumulative impacts of golf course
development can contribute to broad environmental alteration outsi
de the areas of immediate
disturbance (Brewin 1992).

Specific examples of environmental impacts of golf course construction in North Carolina are
well documented. Brown (1982) reported declines of wild trout populations that were attributed
to golf cou
rse construction in Avery County, NC. Abundance of wild trout in Sorrel Hollow
Branch declined by 83% and biomass declined by 67% after development of the Linville Ridge
golf course. Reproduction of brook, brown, and rainbow trout was eliminated in the p
roject area.
Rainbow trout were extirpated from the impacted stream. Similar declines were also
documented on Elk River, North Carolina from golf course construction (Brown 1984). Trout
population impacts were attributed to inadequate erosion control, s
tream channelization, and
removal of riparian vegetation.

Golf course construction in Alleghany County, NC resulted in elimination of trout
reproduction from Sam’s Branch in 1989 (Mickey 1993). The effects on trout reproduction
remained evident when mo
nitoring concluded in 1991. Hydrologic conditions in the previously
undisturbed watershed were drastically altered.

More recently, sedimentation effects from golf course construction were documented and
adjudicated in Jackson County, NC (Hotaling 2000).

In 2000, a jury awarded $500,000 to
plaintiffs suing on the basis of off
site sedimentation resulting from golf course construction on
Grassy Camp Creek. The judge ruled that state standards often are not sufficient to provide
protection to streams.

edimentation resulting from golf course construction is often cited as a direct cause for
impacts to fish and wildlife. Numerous studies have documented the negative impacts on trout
eggs, fry, juveniles, and adults exposed to various levels of suspended
solids (Newcombe and
MacDonald 1991). Effects ranged from suppression of natural reproduction to population
extirpation. A 2002 field survey of Banks Creek, downstream of the proposed Mountain Air
development, indicated a suppressed rainbow trout populat
ion lacking age
0 fish (Besler 2002,

General and specific fish population impacts from sedimentation have been thoroughly
documented for more than 40 years, and relate primarily to issues of water quality, benthic
habitat, species diversity
, and reproduction (Waters 1995). The potential for adverse impacts
resulting from sedimentation is exacerbated by extreme slopes and steep topography (Leopold et
al. 1964;Wenger 1999). Granitic soils, widespread throughout western NC, generally are at h
risk for negatively influencing salmonid reproduction in receiving waters (Waters 1995).
Moreover, the low fertility of North Carolina trout streams increases the potential for fish
population impacts resulting from depression of aquatic invertebrate
production caused by
siltation (Tebo 1955).

Maintaining riparian buffer systems is routinely cited as an important tool in protecting
streams from sedimentation damage (Waters 1995). Buffers serve to filter suspended solids from
surface runoff and prov
ide stream temperature moderation (Barton et al. 1985). Additionally,
buffers provide habitat for terrestrial animals and contribute woody debris to receiving systems
(Koski et al. 1984). Maintaining riparian buffers along smaller headwater streams is pa
important since headwater streams make up most of the stream miles within a watershed

(Osborne and Kovavic 1993; Binford and Buchenau 1993; Hubbard and Lowrance 1994;
Lowrance et al. 1997). Therefore, maintaining buffers along the lower order s
treams provide
more benefits for the overall watershed (Binford and Buchenau 1993). Buffers should also be
maintained along ephemeral channels because they can transport significant amounts of sediment
during storm events (Wenger 1999).

Although grass an
d forested buffers can effectively trap
sediment, forested buffers remove other pollutants, mitigate thermal effects, contribute woody
debris and provide high habitat diversity (Wenger 1999). Because gaps, crossings and other
breaks in a continuous buffer

compromise effectiveness, it is important for buffers to be
continuous (Rabeni and Smale 1996; May and Horner 2000).

Specific recommendations for stream buffers in golf course construction have been proposed,
and relate to vegetation type (Klein 1990),

crossing limitations (Powell and Jollie 1990),
restrictions on fill or development within buffers (Powell and Jollie 1990), and emphasis on
combination methods for general water quality maintenance (Powell and Jollie 1990).


Barton, D. R.,

W. D. Taylor, and R. M. Biette. 1985. Dimensions of riparian buffer strips
required to maintain trout habitat in southern Ontario streams. North American Journal of
Fisheries Management 5:364

Binford, M. W., and M. J. Buchenau. 1993. Riparian

greenways and water resources. Pages

Smith, D. S. and P. Cawood, editors. Ecology of Greenways

University of Minnesota
Press, Minneapolis.

Brewin, M. K. 1992. An annotated bibliography and literature review on the potential impacts of
golf cour
ses on freshwater environments. Prepared by Trutta Environments and Management,
Cochrane, Alberta for Trout Unlimited Canada, Calgary, Alberta and the Alberta
Environmental Research Trust, Calgary, Alberta.

Brown. R. J. 1982. Decline of southern Appala
chian wild trout populations caused by golf
course construction. North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, Federal Aid in Fish
Restoration Project F

Brown, R. J. 1984. The decline of wild trout populations resulting from accelerated erosion
sed by mountain development on the Elk River. North Carolina Wildlife Resources
Commission, Federal Aid in Fish Restoration Project F

Hubbard, R. K., and R. R. Lowrance. 1994. Riparian forest buffer system research at the
Coastal Plain Experiment
al Station, Tifton, Georgia. Water, Air and Soil Pollution

77: 409

Klein, R. D. 1989. The relationship between stream quality and golf courses. Community and
Environmental Defense Associates, Maryland Line, Maryland.

Klein, R. D. 1990. Protecti
ng the aquatic environment from the effects of golf courses.
Community and Environmental Defense Associates, Maryland Line, Maryland.

Koski, K. V., J. Heifetz, S. Johnson, M. Murphy, and S. Thedinga. 1984. Evaluation of buffer
strips for protection of

salmonid rearing habitat and implications for enhancement. Pages
155 in the proceedings of the Pacific Northwest Stream Habitat Management Workshop.
Humboldt State University, Arcata, California.

May, C. W., and R. R. Horner. 2000. The cumulative

impacts of watershed urbanization on
riparian ecosystems. Pages 281

P. J. Wigington , Jr., and R. L. Beschta,
editors. Proceedings of the American Water Resources Association International Conference
on riparian ecology and management in m
land use watersheds, Portland, Oregon.

Mickey, J. H. 1993. Monitoring of wild trout populations in the upper Mitchell River impacted
by accelerated sedimentation caused by the “Olde Beau” development, Alleghany County.
Summary Report, North Caroli
na Wildlife Resources Commission, Raleigh.

Leopold, L. B., M. G. Wolman, and J. P. Miller. 1964. Fluvial processes in geomorphology.
Dover Publications, Inc. New York.

Lowrance, R., and 12 others. 1997. Water quality functions of riparian forest bu
ffers in
Chesapeake Bay watersheds. Environmental Management 21(5): 687

Newcombe, C. P., and D. D. MacDonald. Effects of suspended sediments on aquatic
ecosystems. North American Journal of Fisheries Management 11: 72

Osborne, L. L., and D. A
. Kovacic. 1993. Riparian vegetated buffer strips in water
restoration and stream management. Freshwater Biology

29: 243

Powell, R. O., and J. B. Jollie. 1990. Environmental guidelines for the design and maintenance
of golf courses. Dept
. of Environmental Protection and Resource Management, Baltimore
County, MD.

Rabeni, C. F., and M. A. Smale. 1995. Effects of siltation on stream fishes and the potential
mitigating role of the buffering riparian zone.
303: 211

ling, L. 2000. Local jury awards $500,000 to Highlands family. Sylva Herald

Volume 24, No. 52.

Tebo, L. B. 1955. Effects of siltation, resulting from improper logging, on the bottom fauna of a
small trout stream in the southern Appalachains. Progres
sive Fish Culturist 17(2): 64

Waters, T. F. 1995. Sediment in streams: sources, biological effects, and control. American
Fisheries Society Monograph 7, American Fisheries Society, Bethesda, Maryland. .

Wenger, S. 1999. A review of the scientif
ic literature on riparian buffer width, extent and
vegetation. Office of Public Service and Outreach, Institute of Ecology, University of
Georgia, Athens.