Issue Background


GCSAA Actions:


Staff continues to monitor and take action on fertilizer issues and is working with members to provide information on BMPs for golf courses to lawmakers and regulators and help members and chapters develop formal statewide golf specific BMPs programs.


GCSAA members in Deleware, Maryland, New York, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Virginia formed a small, informal stakeholder group in the spring of 2010 to respond in a coordinated fashion to federal, state and local Chesapeake Bay watershed cleanup initiatives.


In April 2010, GCSAA submitted comments to the U.S. EPA on the Executive Order 13508 Chesapeake Bay Protection and Restoration Section 502 Guidance: Federal Land Management in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.


In 2012, GCSAA members in the Northeast actively participated in the Northeast Voluntary Turf Fertilizer Initiative whose goal is to develop mutually agreeable voluntary guidelines on the formulation, labeling and application of turf fertilizer for the Northeast region.


In 2013, GCSAA members worked with state and local officials on nutrient pollution issues in Cape Cod, Massachusetts; worked with the West Virginia EPA on the development of a fertilizer education program as part of ongoing efforts to clean up the Chesapeake Bay watershed; and continued to respond to city and county fertilizer bans throughout Florida. 



Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment (RISE) 


Position Statement:

The responsible use of fertilizer is essential to maintaining healthy turfgrass. Healthy turfgrass allows communities to enjoy many benefits including: creation of critical "greenspaces"; providing wildlife habitat; and ensuring recreational opportunities. In addition, many entities both public and private rely on healthy turfgrass as a key component in maintaining financial revenues. There are also many environmental benefits to healthy turf including the capture of run-off pollutants in stormwater, erosion control, and serving as a protective barrier in groundwater.

GCSAA supports the development and use of science-based best management practices (BMPs) for fertilizer applications through superintendent–regulator–university partnerships at the local and state levels of government. Fertilizer laws and regulations should be based on sound science supported by credible peer reviewed data and university recommendations. GCSAA supports the enactment of state laws preempting regulation of the use of fertilizers and prohibiting local governments from adopting such laws. Local regulation of the use of these products is both costly and unnecessary. Only state designated regulatory agencies should be vested with the authority to regulate the use of nutrients. These agencies have the scientific expertise to properly determine nutrient requirements for each geographic region within a given state. Laws and regulations involving fertilizer applications should recognize golf properties engaged in environmental stewardship practices and/or programs that address nutrient management through science based BMP plans.


Background Information:

Efforts by states, municipalities and counties across the United States to ban or restrict the use of fertilizers continue as elected officials and citizens attempt to address concerns of nutrient loading in waterways, with phosphorus and nitrogen being of special concern. Activists are attempting to overturn state preemption laws. A federal focus on cleanup of the Chesapeake Bay watershed has brought greater attention to agricultural and urban nutrient management. Chesapeake Bay cleanup efforts are a model for watershed cleanup efforts elsewhere. EPA is pushing state and local governments to regulate fertilizers to control nutrient runoff as well as pushing states to adopt more stringent numeric nutrient water quality standards. Golf course fertilizer use remains a target due to public perception that the amounts used to manage courses are a source of the nutrient loads. State-mandated restrictions and nutrient management plans can have a detrimental impact on golf courses if they are not developed with input from the golf course management industry and without consideration of existing environmental best management practices for golf courses.

Specific fertilizer issues include:

  • Nutrient Management and Management Plans
  • Best Management Practices (BMPs)
  • Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs)
  • Fertilizer Bans/Restrictions


"GCSAA supports the development and use of science-based best management practices (BMPs) for fertilizer applications through superintendent–regulator–university partnerships at the local and state levels of government."