Golf Course Planting Hits a Hole in One
Green Leader Brad Bunkowsky of Burlington Spring Golf & Country Club improves his long game
Burlington, Ont., February 29, 2016 – It’s early dawn and Brad Bunkowsky, Forests Ontario’s newest Green Leader, is already up and ready for the early bird golfers at his family-owned golf course in Burlington. The course, Burlington Springs Golf & Country Club is a family legacy. After Brad’s father acquired the two adjacent plots of farmland in the 60s with a vision to build his own course, he passed on the land to his four children to continue the courses’ operations. Today, the course is thriving, in part because of Brad’s tree planting efforts.
“I have been working at this property for over 35 years. I have always felt that the golf course was too wide open,” says Brad. “I really thought that planting trees would enhance the property and give our customers a better experience.”
When approached by Conservation Halton in late 2013, Brad jumped at the chance to plant through the Ontario government’s 50 Million Tree Program. “When I heard there about this tree planting program, I said ‘Absolutely!’” recounts Brad. “I wish the 50 Million Tree Program had come along sooner!”
In 2014, an ambitious plan was drafted that saw the planting of more than 25,000 trees across the course. The plan accounted for Brad’s objectives by ensuring that the trees would enhance the course’s aesthetics without having the plant impede on the course’s ability to operate. One year later, the trees have seen exceptional growth, in part because of the tending by dedicated groundskeepers.
In the long-term, Brad believes the trees will also help generate staffing efficiencies at the course. “Right now we have people tending the trees, but once they reach a certain height, we will just let them grow and become part of the rough,” he says. “This will cut down on the numerous hours spent cutting and maintaining the grass. It’s a win-win.”
The planting also had additional benefits that went beyond the plan’s initial hopes. “Considering that this site is a golf course, Brad dedicated an enormous amount of land for the trees. This created large forested areas for wildlife habitat and created corridors from existing woodlots,” said Meghan Taylor, Forest Technician at Conservation Halton, who oversaw the planting. “This is a great example for other golf courses or land uses of a similar type that have large amounts of open area, which are currently available for planting. It’s one of the reasons we nominated Brad as a Green Leader.”
After planting the course, Brad was also able to enroll in the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry’s Managed Forest Tax Incentive Program (MFTIP), a program that provides a tax break to qualified landowners. “Since planting, we have saved 19% on our taxes,” says Brad. “All in all, our experience with the 50 Million Tree Program was great. I’d do it again, but I ran out of land!”
“I congratulate Brad Bunkowsky for planting more than 25,000 trees on his golf course through Ontario’s 50 Million Tree Program,” said Bill Mauro, Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry. “Trees refresh our air, provide homes for our wildlife, and protect our water and soil. Mr. Bunkowsky has made an admirable contribution to our natural environment and set a wonderful example for other landowners.”
“We are proud to call Brad Bunkowsky Forests Ontario’s newest Green Leader,” says Rob Keen, CEO of Forests Ontario. “The work he has done at Burlington Springs Golf and Country Club is exceptional. By planting trees, Brad is not only improving the aesthetics of this land, but is also demonstrating exceptional environmental stewardship. He should be commended.”
For more information about the 50 Million Tree Program and other tree planting programs, as well as local tree planting workshops, visit: http://www.forestsontario.ca/50mtp
About 50 Million Tree Program
Forests Ontario administers the government of Ontario’s 50 Million Tree Program, part of the United Nations Billion Tree Campaign. The United Nations’ goal is to plant one billion trees worldwide each year. Ontario is committed to help achieve this goal.
The 50 Million Tree Program is designed to significantly reduce the costs to landowners of large-scale tree planting and thereby increase the number of trees planted across the province.
About Forests Ontario
Forests Ontario is the voice for our forests. Working to promote a future of healthy forests sustaining healthy people, Forests Ontario is committed to the re-greening of Ontario through tree planting efforts on rural lands and in urban areas, as well as the renewal and stewardship of Ontario’s forests through restoration, education and awareness. Visit www.forestsontario.ca or follow us @Forests_Ontario.
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