(WDEF) TDEC Commissioner of Parks Bob Martieau said, "At TDEC we like to say every day is Earth Day because that really is a core part of our mission."
TDEC officials and golf course experts gathered to celebrate the actual Earth Day at The Bear Trace at Harrison Bay. The state-run golf course is considered a leader in environmental sustainability.
Brock Hill serves as the Deputy Commissioner of Parks and Conservation at TDEC. He said, "When we talk about preserving and protecting and also providing great recreational opportunities, they are so clearly connected but never so clearly connected as they are here today at Harrison Bay at The Bear Trace Golf Course."
It all started with a suggestion to switch to electric lawn mowers... And that earned TDEC Director of Sustainable Practices Lori Munkeboe a special award. She said, "It was one of those mere happenstance conversations. The weekend before my next door neighbor had been mowing his lawn with an electric mower. I happened to be passing Mike Nixon who's the director of golf with a cup of coffee and said, Mike, are there electric golf course mowers?" and he said, "I don't know Lori. Let me look into it.""
That conversation led to more than 9,000 gallons of fuel saved and more than 175 days of emission-free operation at The Bear Trace at Harrison Bay. That's one reason two baby bald eaglets call a nest above the putting green home.
She added, "It's terrific to be able to start something like this. Harrison Bay has been doing a lot of sustainable things as do some of our golf courses, but this was really an incredible tipping point to do something new to do something innovative here in Tennessee and something that especially for a state golf course doesn't get done very often so it was really, really exciting."
The Bear Trace at Harrison Bay will now serve as an example of best management practices for golf course environmental sustainability.