WHAT'S GREEN AT CRAGUN'S? | Cragun’s Resort

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May 2009


As a winner of the coveted 2008-2009 5-Star Golf Digest Award, we believe our construction and maintenance of Cragun’s Resort and Legacy Golf courses have set the highest standards of environmental policies and incentives in Minnesota and in the US.

We have planted trees everywhere on our grounds, parking lots, along side of buildings, and our hillsides, which are also protected from erosion with native grasses. We forbid the use of jet watercraft off our ¾ mile shoreline due to noise and danger to water birds and fish. We have been presented with a Good Neighbor Award by the City of East Gull Lake for our environmental stewardship.

Cragun’s has engaged in a comprehensive environmental program since 1999, enacted before construction of our golf courses. We were pioneers in the new Audubon International Signature Sanctuary program; only the second course in the world after Pinehurst to achieve and maintain this highest certification.

Next, out of twenty internationally known golf design candidates, we selected Robert Trent Jones II, a noted conservation minimalist, and the “father of environmental golf” to design our courses. The RTJII plans were submitted for review to Audubon International and approval before construction. Annual Audubon International inspection and certification continues to date.

Also, all of our construction and improvements have been reviewed and approved by these several agencies: The US Army Corp of Engineers, The MN Pollution Control Agency, MN Department of natural resources, MN Department of Health, MN Department of Agriculture, Cass County Planning and Zoning Commission, Cass County Soil & Water Conservation District, and the City of East Gull Lake Planning and Zoning, (utilizing MN Environmental Consulting, and Northern Environmental Company)

1. WATER USE-GOLF: We control and keep the Stephen Lake level high by allowing, and maintaining an active beaver family dam. Golf and Resort parking lot run off is directed into retention holding ponds. Course design and construction also prevents run off into Stephens Lake. Irrigation is scheduled as needed and timed at night to avoid evaporation, soil/water content is measured daily. The Minnesota DNR has supervised our construction and design and has organized shoreline protection and anti-erosion group visits to model our work.
RESORT: We are replacing more than 150 older model 5 gallon toilets with new 1.5 gallon toilets. This will create a reduction of water usage by 5,400 gallons per day. Our guests are offered the option of not laundering their towels every day. Eco-friendly, phosphate free laundry detergents are used.

2. ENERGY USE & CONSERVATION- GOLF: We prioritize the use of natural gas. We also arranged with Minnesota Power Company programs to reduce usage. We also maintain three emergency generators that allow us lower cost electric rates, and guest safety and security during outages. All 134 of our golf carts are electric, avoiding smoke and noise pollution.
RESORT: We reduce energy with our turn-off-the-lights policy and by adjusting temperatures in unused rooms. Most of our meeting spaces incorporate natural light. Cragun’s lodging, dining, meeting facilities and swimming pool, tennis courts, are located under one roof, avoiding outside walking and overuse of entrance and exit ways. Low energy florescent bulbs are used throughout our facility.

3. WASTE DISPOSAL-GOLF: The golf course sewage system uses an aerobic, graduated “nibbler”/stuth system, to break down sewage and grease into clean water. Cass County authorities organized visits to our system’s installation as the first of “future systems”.
RESORT: We were instrumental in organizing the East Gull Lake City sewer district, including Craguns and two neighboring resorts, and protecting our 3,400 foot Gull Lake shoreline. We recycle aluminum, glass, plastic, and paper. Receptacles are located in every meeting room, lobby, and hallways as well as on every golf tee. We use reusable utensils and dishes for in-room dining. We use linen tablecloths and napkins where ever allowed, verses disposable paper products. We also purchase biodegradable and recyclable products for every reasonable application. We purchase beverages , condiments, and food products in bulk dispensers, minimizing individual servings and their associated waste. Our fryer oil is recycled to a local person to make Biodiesel

4. PEST & DISEASE MANAGEMENT-GOLF: We have reduced the amount of chemicals needed for our courses by distributing over 90% of natural, organic fertilizers which promote healthy turf yet reduce mowing and do not penetrate into soil. We have lysimeters strategically located around our three courses to track any phosphorous leaching below turf.
RESORT: We follow a preventative disease management program by immediately removing storm damaged or diseased trees. We use these trees, mostly for mulch or firewood at both the golf course and the resort. We have also used these items for the trails described in #6. We have planted hundreds of trees to replace those lost to storms and other disease factors.

5. WILDLIFE PROMOTION: The 45-hole golf course sits gently on 320 acres in a second growth hardwood forest, dominated by white and red oak, Norway pine, aspen, paper birch, and spruce. The predominant water feature is Stephen’s Lake, a spring-fed water body which covers 103 acres and has 40 acres of wetland located along its north and southwest edges. It is used for a DNR fisheries pond for walleye pike minnows. Five acres of prairie were restored with side oats grama, blue grama, Kalm’s brome, and prairie dropseed. A wildflower meadow of yarrow, New England aster, joe-pye weed, and iron weed was also established. Wildlife seen on the property includes whitetail deer, bear, eastern grey squirrel, bats, porcupine, grey wolf, and the protected Blanding’s turtle. 1,400 feet of bridges protect wetlands and the fairways have no housing developments.

6. CRAGUN’S RESORT & LEGACY COURSES COMMITTED TO ENVIRONMENTAL STEWARDSHIP: At Cragun’s we are sharing our stewardship with our community as well as golfing and resort guests We have developed walking and biking trails around Lake Irma at the resort, and a walking trail leading to Stephen’s Lake at the Legacy. (Lake Irma is maintained with cooperation from the Minn. DNR as a natural spawning pond for Northern Pike migrating from Gull Lake.) During the winter we convert the trails to X-country ski and snowmobile trails. We also maintain the Nature Learning Center walking trail for the City of Baxter.

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