December 17, 2011 – 7:43 pm
The Board of Island County Commissioners is considering a proposal to construct a disc golf course in the 160 acre Rhododendron Forest. Disc golf is a sport similar to golf, except it involves discs (similar to Frisbees™) instead of clubs and golf balls. While it doesn’t require manicured greens like a traditional golf course, it is an active recreational use. If approved, such a facility will impact Rhododendron Forest’s characteristics and the old-growth trees found within it.
Importance of Rhododendron Park
Rhododendron Forest is located south of Coupeville, between State Highway 20 and Patmore Road. It is adjacent to the Rhododendron Park ball fields on Patmore Road. The Washington Natural Heritage Program identified this forest as a rare, native forest community because of the age of the trees and the diverse understory the forest supports. The Rhododendron Forest is considered Globally Imperiled and is one of only five quality examples of this native forest community remaining in Washington and the nation. Two-thirds of this forest is dominated by old-growth Douglas fir trees ranging from 270-350 years old. The remaining one-third is dominated by a stand of mature Douglas firs that are over 150 years old with scattered older trees among them.
The Disc Golf Course Proposal
The Whidbey Island Disc Golf Club is proposing construction of an 18-hole disc golf course in a 40 acre area of Rhododendron Forest. The “fairways” for each hole would run between 150 to 700 feet in length and 20 to 40 feet wide. This would require cutting trees and understory vegetation deemed as obstructions. There will be 36 concrete pads, 6 feet x 12 feet, placed on the course. The Club indicates that adding benches, a practice putting area, a concession area and a driving range/disc sports area would further increase the quality and enjoyment of the disc golf course. The Club also indicates that the course will serve a minimum of 72 people at any given time, all year around.
Land Trust’s Position
The Land Trust recognizes that recreation adds to the quality of life in our community and has many economic and health benefits. A golf disc course is a reasonable recreational opportunity. However, Rhododendron Forest is the wrong place to put such an activity. This forest is part of our natural heritage and this active and intensive recreational use will cause irreparable damage to this irreplaceable part of our Island’s natural heritage. The Land Trust has already submitted an email to the County stating this opinion.
• Read about the Ecological Values of the Rhododendron Forest
• Read the Proposal for the Disc Golf Course in the Forest
• Read Why the proposal is inconsistent with the Park Plan
• Read more about disc golf
Voice Your Opinion
Let the Island County Commissioners know if you think the Rhododendron Forest is the wrong place to construct the disc golf course:
Island County Commissioner District 1
Helen Price Johnson: firstname.lastname@example.org, 360-679-7357
Island County Commissioner District 2
Angie Homola: email@example.com, 360-679-7354
Island County Commissioner District 3
Kelly Emerson: firstname.lastname@example.org, 360-679-7356
Island County Commissioners
P.O. Box 5000
Coupeville, WA 98239