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Sustainable Turfgrass Management Workshop Held

San Antonio Missions National Historical Park

National Park News

During the week of August 27th, nearly 30 employees representing national parks from five regions attended a workshop in the park on managing turfgrass using sustainable practices. 

The workshop was coordinated by the Olmsted Center for Landscape Preservation, a Northeast Region program conducted in collaboration with the Servicewide Biological Resources Management Division/Integrated Pest Management program, Park Facilities Management Division, and NPS Division of Learning & Development.

Turfgrass management in the NPS has been traditionally based on the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides.  The use of these materials and associated turf maintenance practices, substantially increase the carbon footprint of parks as well as having the potential to raise environmental concerns.  This workshop presented alternative methods that effectively meet management objectives for turfgrass quality while reducing park operational costs and environmental risks.  These methods can help parks meet NPS sustainability goals identified in the “Call to Action” and the Green Parks Plan. 

Building on the success of a pilot turf stewardship project at several parks in the Midwest Region, this workshop included discussions on applying concepts of integrated pest management to turf maintenance by Wayne Millington, natural resource specialist for Northeast Region. 

Chip Osborne of Osborne Organics of Marblehead, Massachusetts, presented information on using natural materials and sustainable practices to improve soil composition for supporting healthy turfgrass.  Additional discussions covered seed selection, maintenance techniques and setting site specific quality standards.  Concepts and techniques covered in classroom sessions were applied in the field at Mission Concepcion, one of the park’s historic sites, where participants had the opportunity to apply practices of aerating compacted turf, site preparation and seeding, and top dressing existing turf with organic materials to improve soils. 

A great deal of thanks goes to San Antonio Mission’s superintendent, John Lujan, maintenance supervisor John Martinez and facility manager David Vekasy for hosting and assisting with the workshop.  In addition, Jamie McGuane, Olmsted Center, and Bob MacKenzie, Adams National Historical Park, coordinated all workshop logistics.

For additional information please contact Carol Disalvo, integrated pest management program coordinator, Washington Support Office (, 202-513-7183) or Charlie Pepper, program manager, preservation maintenance and education, Olmsted Center for Landscape Preservation (, 617-241-6954 ext. 260).


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