Bethpage State Park: A Model for the Future
Bethpage State Park, located on Long Island, is best known for its five world-class golf courses, including the world renowned Black Course which was the site of the U.S. Open Championship in 2002 and 2009. These 1,500 acres of open space is an island oasis surrounded by a densely populated suburban community. This landscape is an ideal habitat containing a diversity of flowering trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants that attract a plethora of pollinators. Bethpage stands in contrast to typical golf courses that are known for their excessive use of pesticides that would be detrimental to a healthy ecosystem.
Bethpage State Park is the largest publicly owned golf course in the country and stands as a leader in environmental stewardship. Managers have worked closely with the NYS Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Program from Cornell Cooperative Extension to create an environmental model for golf courses across the country. This program has reduced their environmental impact up to 96% over conventional practices. In addition, a few sites throughout the park have been cultivated to attract and encourage pollinators.
What is Integrated Pest Management? IPM is an effective and environmentally sensitive approach to pest management that relies on a combination of common sense practices. The first step in IPM puts emphasis on control, not eradication, and establishes acceptable pest levels. Continued monitoring helps ascertain impending problems that will require action steps. Actions steps would include: mechanical controls such as handpicking of insects or setting up traps, biological controls such as promoting beneficial insects and lastly, conservative and responsible use of synthetic pesticides. IPM works well in agricultural settings and for home lawns and gardens.
On June 30th, 2015 I was fortunate to assist with a pollinator survey with Jennifer Grant, Jody Gangloff-Kaufmann, Joellen Lampman and Matt Frye from the Cornell Cooperative Extension, NYS IPM Program. Using sweep nets and containers we collected pollinators on flowers currently in bloom; coneflower, milkweed, fleabane, rudbeckia, etc. It was evident early on, that a variety of bees, butterflies, beetles and other insects were thriving in this particular area. The collected specimens would later be identified. The gathered information will help build a baseline of what pollinators are frequenting the area and will help managers to develop strategies on how to enhance pollinator habitat within the park.
Bethpage State Park and it’s associated golf courses is indeed an inspiration that humans can maintain environmentally friendly areas that can double as functioning recreation facilities while also providing beneficial habitat to wildlife.
- Reducing the Risks of Golf Course Management: The Bethpage Project: http://www.nysipm.cornell.edu/%5C/publications/red_risk_golf/default.asp
- Bethpage State Park: http://nysparks.com/parks/108/details.aspx