Some Florida lawmakers have proposed building golf courses in state parks in an effort to create a legacy for Floridian and golf legend Jack Nicklaus, now a golf course designer. It’s been called “the worst idea in history” and the “Worst. Idea. Ever.”

The bill notes in its clauses explaining the plan that “Nicklaus and Nicklaus Design have a long history of environmental stewardship, with 40 Nicklaus-designed golf courses certified by Audubon International,” and that “Jack Nicklaus was the recipient of the prestigious John James Audubon Special Recognition Award for his environmentally friendly golf course designs.”

The name “Audubon International” may evoke the National Audubon Society, the conservation group, or its state affiliate, Audubon of Florida (which would lend the project a green veneer), but Audubon International is not affiliated with those groups. A statement from the national group says that Audubon International is supported in part by the United States Golf Association and certifies golf courses as “cooperative sanctuaries.”

“Audubon does not certify golf courses, or any other development, as being environmentally sound,” the statement says. “Indeed, Audubon very often opposes such development.”

Here’s the full statement from the national group:

The National Audubon Society (Audubon) was founded in 1905 for the purpose of conserving and restoring natural ecosystems, focusing on birds and other wildlife, and their habitats. Audubon is supported by over 400,000 members with state offices, programs, and 500 chapters across the country.

Audubon receives many calls and letters from people who have confused Audubon with a different organization calling itself Audubon International. Since its inception in 1991, Audubon International, funded in part by the United States Golf Association, has been certifying golf courses that pay an annual membership fee as Audubon Cooperative Sanctuaries.  Similar fee-based certifications are available from Audubon International to developers of cemeteries, municipal parks, campgrounds, resorts, stores, industrial facilities, marinas, residential communities and preparatory schools.

Audubon is not associated with Audubon International in any way.  Audubon does not certify golf courses, or any other development, as being environmentally sound.  Indeed, Audubon very often opposes such development.  Furthermore, Audubon sanctuaries are protected natural spaces for public enjoyment.  No Audubon sanctuary is certified for development.

We ask your cooperation and care in distinguishing between Audubon and Audubon International, and in clarifying that these various certification programs are not endorsed or supported by Audubon.


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