Pacific Gales Golf Course
Socially Minded, Conservation-Oriented, Environmentally Responsible
The proposed Pacific Gales Golf Course has been portrayed on the Oregon Coast Alliance’s website as “not in the best interest of conservation” and “not environmentally responsible.” That the project fails to protect important natural resources such as riparian areas and bottomlands along the Elk River, and in doing so, fails to safeguard salmon runs. The Alliance implies that the project is driven by the property owner’s greed and that a large chunk of coastal farmland will be taken out of production with no sustainable, long-term economic benefits. They add that the citizens of Curry County and the City of Port Orford “deserve better” without ever saying what “better” is.
While we applaud and support the efforts of organizations pursuing responsible environmental conservation, we also must respond vigorously to groups that peddle inaccuracies and slander projects under the guise of conservationism, simply for the sake of condemning development with which they philosophically disagree. Therefore, to establish an honest dialog to engender an educated and responsible assessment, we have prepared an outline of the project with facts regarding the environmental, social and economic realities of the proposed Pacific Gales Golf Course.
Many of the actions and conservation measures listed below are management practices proposed by the developers of Pacific Gales Golf Course and are not requirements of law or conditions imposed in conjunction with any land use approval to construct the course.
PHYSICAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL
• The proposed golf course will be developed on a plateau perched approximately 100 feet in elevation above the Pacific Ocean (to the West) and the adjacent bottomlands (to the North) that fronts the Elk River. The elevation of the golf course creates a natural buffer that eliminates any potential conflicts with continuing farm activities on the bottomlands to the North.
• The proposed northern boundary of the golf course will be approximately three quarters of a mile from the Elk River.
• The golf course property slopes south and away from Elk River. There are no drainages, creeks, streams or waterways that hydraulically connect the golf course to the Elk River.
• Although the subject property is zoned for Exclusive Farm Use, only 60 of the entire 200-plus acres utilized for golf course have ever been employed for farming. While a portion of the upper plateau has historically been a livestock pasture during the flood season, grazing on the poor soils is limited and the majority of feed comes from grass hay grown on the bottomlands to the North.
• The south and east boundaries of the lease area upon which the golf course will be constructed are directly adjacent to the City of Port Orford Urban Growth Boundary. The proposed low-intensity recreational use (golf course) will act as a transitional buffer between the high-density residential uses occurring with the urban growth boundary and potentially conflicting agricultural uses that are permitted outright in the Exclusive Farm Use zone.
• The southerly portion of the proposed golf course is currently inundated with gorse, a non-native, invasive species that presents a considerable fire hazard to the surrounding development within the City of Port Orford Urban Growth Boundary. The development of the golf course will help eradicate this threat.
WETLANDS CONVERSATION AND ENHANCEMENT
• The development will avoid all wetlands.
• Where appropriate, the golf course development will enhance existing wetlands; they will remain as natural asthetic features of the course. This includes converting wet meadows from a marginal livestock pasture to a diverse wildlife habitat.
• The development of bio-swales for storm water management will create a series of new water-cleansing wetlands.
STORM WATER MANAGEMENT
• Storm water runoff throughout the course will be captured and directed along its natural flow to the south, away from the bottomlands basin fronting the Elk River.
• A series of bio-swales at the south end of the property will filter storm water runoff prior to entering the environment.
• All parking lots and trails will consist of natural permeable surfaces to reduce storm water runoff.
• The proposed Scottish-style links course will use drought tolerant grasses and vegetation that substantially reduces water consumption.
• Irrigating a links course serves not to abundantly grow grass but to keep it healthy, reducing water consumption and conserving energy needed for mowing.
• A state-of-the-art computerized system will include individual irrigation head control, interconnected to a weather station and soil moisture sensors to insure that water is used efficiently.
• The system irrigates in intervals with low-flow heads during the middle of the night to assure maximum absorption and reduced runoff or evaporation.
• A subsurface drainage system will collect the majority of storm water and recycle for irrigation.
EROSION PREVENSION AND SEDIMENTARY CONTROL
• Vegetative erosion control measures will be implemented within ephemeral drainages along the sea cliff where possible and practical.
• Stabilizing vegetation will be planted in areas susceptible to wind and storm water erosion.
• The Department of Environmental Quality will approve a storm water management and erosion control plan for all activities associated with construction and post-construction development.
• A professional geologist will monitor current cliff erosion in ephemeral drainages prior to and during construction.
CHEMICAL AND NUTRIENT CONTAINMENT
• In conjunction with the implementation of a strict management plan, Pacific Gales will seek to become Audubon International Cooperative Sanctuary and Salmon Safe certified. The developer’s plan to employ Best Management Practices (BMPs) meet standards established by both conservation organizations listed above and will be modified as more efficient and environmental-friendly practices are established.
• The varieties of fine fescue grasses proposed for the course have a low fertilizer requirement, and are also drought, disease and pest resistant.
• The majority of fertilizer will consist of foliar feeding from organic sources.
• When the BMPs are implemented, no chemical or nutrient residuals will leave the golf course or enter into the environment.
• Storm water runoff will be tested regularly to assure that no contaminants are entering the environment.
• The future superintendent and partner in the Pacific Gales, Troy Russell, has received the following national recognition in the form of the Environmental Leaders Golf Awards (ELGA) of Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA):
• 2001 - Completed GCSAA educational requirements for IPM Specialization
• Merit Award Resort category, GCSAA/Golf Digest ELGA
• 2002 - Merit Award, Resort, GCSAA/Golf Digest ELGA
• 2003 - Chapter Winner, Resort, GCSAA/Golf Digest ELGA
• 2004 - Oregon GCSA Superintendent of the year, GCSAA/Golf Digest ELGA
• 2005 - National Winner, Resort, GCSAA/Golf Digest ELGA
SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC
• The natural and native slow-growing, pest- and disease-resistant, drought-tolerant grasses and vegetation used on a links-style golf course need fewer energy inputs for mowing, watering and general maintenance.
• Where feasible, proposed solar panels will address several energy needs, including golf cart recharging, electric mowers and general facility operation.
• The proposal includes organic gardens and greenhouses on site to provide fresh produce for the facility.
• The Golf Course’s restaurant will support local agricultural enterprises by serving local fruits, vegetables, meats, fish and poultry when possible, as well as promoting local and regionally produced products (wines, cheeses, etc.).
• Development of the golf course will cost approximately $15 million, which will be infused directly into the economy.
• During development of the course, all workers, contractors and materials, to the extent possible, will be locally sourced.
• During operation, the golf course will employ 30 to 40 full-time employees with the same number of part-time employees during the summer months.
• Pacific Gales will provide family wage jobs with benefit packages.
• Pacific Gales offers positive benefits for the local economy with added tourist dollars and wages re-circulated back into the community.
• By its nature as a world-class golf course, the project will provide a national and international audience to the Port Orford, Curry County and entire Southern Oregon Coast.
• The golf course will work with the local Native American tribes (Coquille and Siletz) on an archeological assessment and mitigation of cultural artifacts to assure that the facility celebrates and displays the region’s history.
• The local school system will share in the facility through golf programs, internships and educational programs.
• Pacific Gales will provide recreational opportunities and off-season rates to locals.
The developers of Pacific Gales Golf Course are not some multinational conglomerate looking to expand its holdings by exploiting the success of the Bandon Dunes Golf Resort. To the contrary, the project was initiated by Jim Haley, a blue-collar individual who has spent the majority of his life on heavy equipment building golf courses for others while harboring a dream to one day build his own. Haley’s dream was not just to build another golf course, but a unique golf course in a special location that would offer an exceptional golf experience. More than 16 years ago (long before that success of Bandon Dunes), when Jim stood on the bluff overlooking Knapp Ranch and the Pacific Ocean, he realized that the process of fulfilling that dream had begun. After 10 years of ongoing negotiations with the Knapp family, an agreement was reached in 2012 that will ultimately benefit both parties — and Curry County.
Knapp Ranch has been in the family for generations, but sustaining a coastal farming operation on marginally productive land has not been easy, and has not always been profitable. As with many farming families on the South Coast, the owner/operators of Knapp Ranch are also employed outside the ranch to support the farm operation. In recent years, to help finance farming operations, the family has leased a portion of the ranch adjacent to the bottomlands near the Elk River for aggregate mining. As a result, what was once a small private quarry has expanded exponentially under the commercial use and now consumes a significant portion of the ranch. The Knapp family seeks to reduce the quarry area through reclamation and convert the majority of the site back to pasture in conjunction with the most productive and adjacent bottomlands.
Because reclamation will mean losing a source of ranch income, phasing out the quarry became feasible only by finding a more passive and sustainable use — Pacific Gales Golf Course. Leasing a relatively small portion of unproductive farmland together with other land unsuitable for farming makes sense on many levels. The project will help phase out an intensive industrial use adjacent to productive farmland and the Elk River while restoring and enhancing relatively unproductive farmland through a passive recreational use. This eliminates a limited and non-sustainable use in exchange for a sustainable and more compatible use. In short, Knapp Ranch’s commitment to diversity creates a symbiotic relationship with Pacific Gales to promote a sustainable future for their agricultural use of their land.