Tuesday, November 29, 2016

2016 Outstanding Partner Award – Paul Diegnau

Paul Diegnau (left) is presented an award by RWMWD's Bill Bartodziej (right)



Your ball goes into the water and the wood ducks turn, frogs leap and turtles abandon their perch on a fallen log.

Are you hitting golf balls into the lake at your cabin? No, you’re playing a full 18 holes at Keller Golf Course. Thanks to the efforts of golf course superintendent, Paul Diegnau, you’re sharing the course (or more specifically, the water hazards) with dozens of other creatures.

Keller Golf Course's hole 15 was the first restoration collaboration.
Done in 2004, this standard mow-to-shore water hazard became a beautiful and functional
habitat that quickly became seen as an amenity to the course. (Left: before / Right: after)

Paul has been with the Keller Golf Course for over 21 years. During that time, he has been able to successfully meld golf with natural resources management and has partnered on numerous ecological restoration and storm water management projects on the course. In all, 26 acres of no-play area have been restored to high-quality native habitat, and 75 percent of the runoff from the course is directed into an infiltration basin that helps to recharge groundwater.

For that, we are proud to award him with the 2016 Outstanding Partner Award. This award recognizes an individual, organization or business that effectively collaborates with Ramsey-Washington Metro Watershed District to achieve exceptional results in water resources management. 


The collaboration strategy between RWMWD and Keller Golf Course was to thoughtfully combine golf with ecological restoration and water management. It began with a single buffer area restoration around a water hazard in 2004. This area became a course amenity to both the golfers and wildlife. In 2013 and 2014, the course went through a major renovation, at which time Paul and RWMWD secured grant money to restore an additional fifteen acres of no-play area, including pond and wetland buffers, woodlands, and prairie. During that time Paul opened up the course to hundreds of local school children to learn about ecological restoration and be a part of the planting process. 

Ramsey County Master Gardeners assisted St. Paul students in the prairie restoration.

Thanks to Paul, Keller now has the most and the highest quality natural areas of any course in the Metro area. These areas compose a critical refuge within the Phalen Chain of Lakes Corridor and have earned the course status as an Audubon International Certified Golf Course.
Paul having fun at WaterFest, dressed
as a stormwater goalie.

It’s with great thanks that we celebrate his accomplishments with this award. We appreciate Paul’s partnership, his leadership, and willingness to take a chance on some very innovative ideas to improve our watershed.

Enjoy a few more photos from this award-winning course and Paul's involvement below.

Hole 5 buffer restoration with blue iris in bloom

Hole 12 buffer restoration around the large infiltration basin
with Joe pye weed in bloom

Hole 16 prairie restoration undergoing a prescribed burn
to boost native seed germination

Hole 16 a few months after the above prescribed burn
with abundant native blooms

Students working on one of the many native plantings
take a break to look for golf balls in the rough.

Hole 4 green surrounded by mature oaks and restored prairies

Construction of the large groundwater recharge infiltration basin
took place during the major 2013/2014 course renovation.

Paul (left) and RWMWD's Bill Bartodziej (right)
have a good time volunteering at our annual WaterFest.
Paul (left) at the 2016 Recognition Dinner, held at the Keller Golf
Course Clubhouse, prior to receiving an award of his own.

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