Federal authorities have announced on Friday a long-term management plan to allow communities over the East Cost to reopen beaches typically closed during nesting season for the piping plovers.
The 26-year habitat conservation plan is the first of its kind involving piping plovers in the country. The project promotes long-term conservation of the species while at the same time increasing options for beach management, said Paul Phifer, assistant regional director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
“It really keys in on beaches where growing plover populations are affecting beach managers’ abilities to meet operational and recreational needs,” Phifer told the Vineyard Gazette.
Thanks to the efforts of authorities and biologist, the birds have begun nesting in Massachusetts, and this is a good sign that those closed beaches paid off, as reported by the Mirror Daily.
According to the new set of rules, communities can now apply to the state Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MassWildlife) for permission to allow overland vehicles access in nesting areas, as reported by Vineyard Gazette.
The organization can change and adjust the number of authorized activities each year, depending on the season and the plover population changes. According to the rules, they now allow the loss of a percentage of the total plover population, but if this drops below 500 pairs, then no one would be permitted.
An endangered species
The birds are still listed under the Endangered Species Act, due to there is a change that they could ended up extinct. However, for the advances in their recovery, the current initiative could offer a balance between the communities part of the beaches and the birds.
The new efforts were part of a conjoined adventure between the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife and U.S. Fish and Wildlife. The species was first protected in 1986 after officials built fences on the beach to protect the birds during the nesting season.
The piping plovers need special protections because for some reason they are unable to fly while nesting. But even though they first need protection, once born they are surprisingly resilient and need only a couple of week to be large enough to start flying.
Until now, only 139 nesting pairs have been reported in Massachusetts. Last year more than 600 pairs were spotted, which means that this numbers should grow although it is expected to be still lower than last year.
According to Wendi Weber, U.S. Fish, and Wildlife Service Northeast Regional Director, the current situating with the birds look good because experts calculated that the piping plover population had been recovered during the last three decades as a result of the joint efforts of multiple organizations, government, state, federal, private, and municipal landowners.
Source: Mirror Daily