More than just birdies at Swenson golf course

Photo by Steve Rapaport

As I wrote in Saturday’s Record, the debate over the future of Swenson Park Golf Course — and the potential construction of homes there — may be the most passionate open space discussion I’ve seen since I moved to Stockton in 2005.

While a manicured golf course isn’t purely “natural” habitat, it is clear that Swenson is home to plenty of critters. And that’s something that may be of value to golfers and non-golfers alike.

To add to this discussion, a big thanks to Steve Rapaport for sending me a number of photos he has taken at Swenson. Enjoy.

Photo by Steve Rapaport

Photo by Steve Rapaport

 

Photo by Steve Rapaport

Photo by Steve Rapaport

Photo by Steve Rapaport

Photo by Steve Rapaport

Photo by Steve Rapaport

 

Photo by Steve Rapaport

Thank you also to Jim Marsh for documenting a real National Geographic kind of moment in the middle of a city of 300,000 people. As I wrote Saturday, Marsh was on the golf course last winter when he saw a fox several hundred feet down the fairway. It was dragging a fat steelhead behind it.

The fish, presumably, had come from Five Mile Slough which forms the northern boundary of the course. When there’s enough flow, migratory fish like salmon and steelhead find their way from the Pacific Ocean all the way to Swenson Golf Course. That’s remarkable.

It’s not clear how the fox got possession of the fish, but here’s what was left of her when Marsh arrived at the scene.

Photo by Jim Marsh

The point of Saturday’s story was to establish that open spaces — even golf courses — have value to wildlife, and thus to people (including non-golfers). We are hearing many of those stories about Swenson now that the city is reevaluating its future. I don’t know what the right course of action is, but it’s certainly appropriate that these stories are part of the discussion.

Postscript: Put this one on the ever-growing list of ideas. Marsh suggests selling “subscriptions” or “memberships” to walkers or wildlife enthusiasts who would like to visit Swenson, which would open portions of the park up to golfers and non-golfers alike. Details, of course, would have to be worked out, Marsh writes. “But would this not be a way to add income beyond what green fees generate?”

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    Alex Breitler

    A native of Benicia, he lives in Stockton with his wife, Ann, who forces him to go backpacking in the Sierra Nevada or Trinity Alps at every opportunity. He has been writing mostly about natural resources since 2003, first in Redding and now in ... Read Full
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