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When we talk about the sustainability of anything, we're considering how an activity impacts the site and how to minimize those impacts through prevention and mitigation so that the activity can continue with minimal negative affects to the environment. So, how does, and to what extent does disc golf impact the environment? What can we do to minimize those impacts through installation methods and maintenance?

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Environmental footprint is *really* complex to measure.

For example, at the new Ann Arbor course at Bandemer Park, we have 9 holes with three 4x8-foot concrete tee pads.

Concrete presents an impermeable surface and has a negative environmental impact due to water runoff, instead of water soaking in.

On the other hand (OTOH), to carve out the fairways we removed approximately 3.5 acres of Buckthorn, an invasive, non-domestic species of plant which the locals sometimes spend days burning out with gasoline drippers at "controlled burns.

How do you measure the one against the other?

Tough, yes. Does that mean we shouldn't do it, no.
I think if you talk about the effects of a disc golf course you need to discuss it for the different types of golf courses.
An open course is completely different that a course cut through the woods.
The size of the concrete pads we use in negligible in terms of runoff compared to other courts that are constructed, they are small in comparison to other surfaces put in for sport.
We are building a course in Pensacola (the Gator Links) and we are working with trails already in place, using fire lanes for some of the fairways, installing educational signs related to habitats, tree species, and other simple facts to help integrate the course with the environment. This course is cut through the woods and has what I believe to be a minimal impact on the environment.
In the case of an open course you run into a different set of issues that are often already in place when the course gets installed.
Everything disc golf can do to be more environmentally friendly can only be a good thing.
I've found that the course carved through the woods can be both good and bad for the environment.

The initial plant removal can actually be beneficial to the plant community if you endeavor to remove non-natives and other stifling ground plants. The bad thing about wooded holes is that you're funneling disc and foot traffic through narrow routes, which concentrates compaction, enabling erosion of the soil which in turn affects the root systems of remaining trees, not to mention the disc hits to protective bark. Open holes allow a more spread out traffic pattern so that erosion will only be pronounced around the tee and the basket, which can be rather easily mitigated.
Those are very good points on the wooded courses. We tried our best to keep natives and do as little damage to the woods as possible. Using pre-existing fire lanes was a big help in keeping our impact down.
I can see your point in the open holes but in many cases they are only there because the woods were completely removed.
I guess there are pros and cons to both and anywhere humans go gets impacted in many ways, the fact that discgolfers care to pay attention to our impacts is a move in the right direction.


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