Callippe Preserve Golf Course
Restoration and Mitigation of Habitat
Callippe Preserve Golf Course is located in Pleasanton, California – approximately 45 minutes east of San Francisco. The 18-hole, par 72 golf course meanders through expansive rolling grasslands, coast live oak studded canyons and dramatic ridgelines offering views of majestic Mt. Diablo. Surrounding the core 145 acres for this upscale municipal facility are 280 acres of land preserved as permanent open space which also features three miles of hiking and equestrian trails. Two existing estates from the original landowners remain on the property with the addition of 34 new home sites. The proceeds from the sale of these lots were used to offset, in part, the cost of land acquisition, project and construction costs.
Located at the southern end of the City of Pleasanton, the property was principally ranch land used for cattle grazing with coast live oak woodlands and riparian habitat amongst Happy Valley Creek and its main channel branches and the grassy knolls and ridgelines which dominate the southwestern corner of the land. Unmonitored cattle grazing caused habitat degradation to the seasonal creeks and created watering ponds. Despite this condition the site possessed habitat for several sensitive species including the federally endangered California Tiger Salamander (Ambystoma californiense), the federally threatened California Red-Legged Frog (Rana aurora draytonii) as well as the federally endangered Callippe Silverspot Butterfly (Speyeria callippe callippe) which is the project namesake.
In 1994, negotiations began with the landowners of the property. Planning for the golf course began back in 1988 with a citizen committee formed to identify potential sites for the project. The golf course architect commenced work with the city staff and the golf course committee in 1997. During the early stages of design the project team met numerous times with various local, state and federal departments to provide an open forum to present the project objectives and receive feedback from the community and the regulatory agencies. The multi-agency meetings were typically attended by representatives from the following permitting agencies: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, California Department of Fish and Game, California Regional Water Quality Control Board and the State Department of Health Services. The main concerns of the agencies were impacts to creeks, channels, seeps, seasonal wetlands, groundwater, storm water and irrigation runoff and the resultant water quality, and the potential loss of habitat for the above federal and state listed species.
The primary goal was to integrate all of the requirements of the city, the regulators and the intended design concepts into a challenging and yet playable course with a sequence of unique and memorable golf holes. Towards that end, the golf course architect worked with project consultants to establish design parameters and implementation techniques that conformed to the various permit requirements. Some of these measures included acceptable stabilization and restoration measures applied to both recreated streams and existing creeks. During construction, the project team worked closely with the golf course builder and the general contractor to avoid fenced-off sensitive undisturbed areas as well as adhere to the construction-stage “Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan.” The golf course builder excelled with their execution of detailed finish work under demanding time constraints while maintaining the protection measures for environmentally sensitive areas.
All of the newly constructed and existing seasonal stream channels were planted with over 4,000 new native plants that included protective cages and drip irrigation. The golf course superintendent was an integral part of the construction management team supervising the revegetation of these environmentally sensitive channels. The management company retained by the City of Pleasanton assumed the post-construction operation and maintenance of the golf course. This responsibility also required the preparation of an annual report to be submitted to the permitting agencies which includes a detailed weed management plan, inspection and repair of the drip irrigation system. Permit requirements specifically identify parameters for inspection intervals, entrance into the channels and cultural activities available for weed suppression and eradication. In total, there are over 20 separate land management plans that govern this cooperative land use project that includes the golf course, trail system, endangered species habitat, created wetlands and dedicated grazing land.
One of the on-going challenges for the course operator is educating the golfers about the “no access” policy for the environmentally sensitive channels which influence play on 16 of the 18 holes. All of the channels are clearly defined with “green topped” environmental stakes. While there are signs stating ”Do not enter native area” placed throughout the course along these sensitive areas to alert the golfers, it takes the additional educational notices placed on scorecards, in course guide books and golf carts, as well as friendly reminders by the starter and on-course marshals that entry into these areas is prohibited. The effort seems to be reaping benefits as fellow golfers often remind each other of this important environmental policy. Shortly after opening, Callippe Preserve Golf Course achieved Audubon International designation as a “Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary” by demonstrating a high caliber of environmental dedication in areas such as environmental planning, wildlife and habitat management, outreach and education, chemical use reduction and safety, water conservation, and water quality management.
The design philosophy of avoidance, restoration and mitigation, combined with the application of best management practices during construction and post-construction allowed for a drainage watershed that reduced sedimentation and runoff and established new riparian habitats and wetland areas. The golf course was sensitively routed through this enhanced network of existing and recreated wetland channels, which not only added strategic value and interest to the golf experience, but contributed towards the goal of creating a successful and award-winning example of environmental stewardship.
Brian Costello, ASGCA
JMP Golf Design Group
Continental Golf, Inc., GCBAA