Rio Grande, PR, December 13, 2013 --(PR.com
)-- Bahia Beach Resort and Golf Club was recently re-certified as an Audubon International Signature Sanctuary. The resort is the only property in Puerto Rico to be certified by Audubon International and one of only 20 properties in the world to achieve Gold Certification in the prestigious Audubon International Signature Program. The resort’s golf course has also received Silver Certification in the program.
To become certified, Signature Program members must implement management of the property according to a site-specific Natural Resource Management Plan (NRMP) addressing wildlife conservation and habitat enhancement, water quality monitoring and management, integrated pest management, water conservation, energy efficiency, waste reduction and management, and green building products and procedures. To become re-certified, members must provide an annual update including completion of education and outreach projects, water quality monitoring analyses, and an on-site review.
“It is an honor for all of us at Bahia Beach Resort & Golf Club to receive the Audubon International Silver and Gold Signature Sanctuary Certification for the 5th year in a row. This recertification recognizes Bahía Beach and the St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort as environmentally sustainable developments and distinguishes the participation of the Sanctuary as an environmental leader in the region. The Soul of Bahia shines bright,” says Federico Sanchez, President Interlink Group, the developer of the property.
The 470-acre property, which was once a Spanish coconut palm plantation, is today dominated by the Robert Trent Jones II-designed 18-hole golf course and the lakes created years ago by mining activities. A series of residential communities and the St. Regis Hotel round out the amenities. The property is situated adjacent to the mouth of the Espiritu Santo River, the only navigable river in Puerto Rico, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean. The nearby El Yunque Rainforest is one of the most biologically diverse forests managed by the USDA Forest Service.
Environmental highlights of the resort include the following:
• Wetland Complex – Includes 70 acres of ponds and a 4.5 acre wetland complex of open water, wet meadow, spike rush marsh, and wet forest.
• Drainage – The entire golf course drainage system outlets into the wetland complex through a series of storm piping, vegetated swales, and overland flows.
• Hydrology – Restoration and expansion of the former wetland has helped restore the necessary hydrology to the site to insure the long-term survivability of the wetland.
• Native Plants – Native plant materials maximize the “out-of-play areas” to create habitat.
• Water Quality Monitoring – Water quality of water bodies is monitored on a regular basis to ensure that the quality of surface and ground water remains consistent. In addition, a minimum twenty-five foot buffer no-spray buffer is located around all wetlands and water bodies to aid in filtering storm water runoff. The “Audubon Cut” is the staff training designation given to the height of cut around water bodies and sensitive areas to provide filtration from the golf course and protection of water quality.
• Wildlife Habitat – The Puerto Rican Boa, an endangered species of reptile resides on the property as well as more than 50 species of birds including the endemic Puerto Rican Woodpecker, the Puerto Rican emerald hummingbird, and the native Caribbean coot.
• Cleaning Products ¬– Biodegradable cleaning products are used throughout the resort.
• Nature Center – The Nature Center is a space located at the Bahia Beach Boat House where guests and residents can receive information related to local natural resources and where nature tours begin, environmental staff training is done, and workshops are presented.
• Environmental Education and Outreach – More than 1,200 guests were given nature tours last year; more than 7,500 public school students have participated in environmental presentations and workshops; more than 1,500 people have participated in beach cleanup.
• Regional Conservation – Bahia Beach participates in the Espiritu Santo River Watershed Conservation Initiative in close collaboration with the US Forest Service.
“Bahia Beach has taken seriously the responsibility for protecting one of the ‘last wilds’ in Puerto Rico. We extend our thanks to them for their continued conscientious approach to “doing what is right” for not only the environment, but for the resort, the local community, and the island,” stated Nancy Richardson, Signature Program Director, after her recent review of the property. “They are providing a positive environmental message to the people who will inhabit Bahia Beach, those who will use it, those who will pass through it, and those that work there.”
About Audubon International
Audubon International is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) environmental education organization dedicated to providing people with the education and assistance they need to practice responsible management of land, water, wildlife, and other natural resources. To meet this mission, the organization provides training, services, and a set of award-winning environmental education and certification programs for individuals, organizations, properties, new developments, and entire communities. The Signature Program premiered in 1993 and is focused on promoting sound land management practices and appropriate land use changes based on sound scientific research. Signature Sanctuaries are currently located in 29 states and in Canada, Puerto Rico, China, Portugal, and Spain.
For more information, contact Nancy Richardson at Audubon International’s Kentucky office, 230 Second Street, Suite 311, Henderson, KY 42420, (270)869-9419, firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the website at www.auduboninternational.org.