|County asks state for beach restrictions to protect breeding area of snowy plover|
|January 07, 2012 05:52 am|
GOLD BEACH – Curry County commissioners have again asked the Oregon Department of Parks and Recreation for a six-month temporary beach restriction near Floras Lake for the western snowy plover breeding season, starting March 15.
Biologists estimate that no more than 2,270 of the endangered snowy plovers breed along the Pacific Coast of the United States.
The Pacific Coast western snowy plover is a small shorebird with pale brown to gray upper parts, gray to black legs and bill, and dark patches on the forehead, behind the eyes, and on either side of the upper breast.
The species’ decline has been attributed to loss of nesting habitat, human disturbance, encroachment of European beach grass on nesting grounds, and predators.
The county commissioners on Wednesday approved a letter to state Parks Director Tim Wood, asking that the state department restrict public access to the half-mile section of beach along New River, Floras Creek and Floras Lake.
“We believe that the requested beach restriction for Curry County administered land within the New River area represents the use of lesser restrictive measures,” the commissioners wrote. “We feel this request is justified in that plovers have nested in the area as recently as the 2000 breeding season and this area contains some of the best plover nesting habitat south of the BLM’s habitat restoration area in the vicinity of Storm Ranch.”
Current dry sand restrictions for snow plover breeding total approximately 17.5 miles of Oregon’s coast, or 0.07 percent of the coast.
“Compliance monitoring of these temporary dry sand restrictions indicates that there is a segment of the recreating public violating them, and that in most areas there is little to no buffer between human activity and nesting plovers,” the commissioners wrote.
“Therefore, the implementation of anything less would allow activities that would preclude breeding and nesting behavior as well as jeopardize plover nesting and/or fledging success,” the commissioners wrote.
Curry County commissioners signed an agreement with BLM and the parks department in December, 2002, to restrict potential breeding areas to coordinate recovery in Oregon for the threatened bird, approximately the size of a sparrow.
Since the species was listed as threatened, many local groups have voluntarily worked to protect plovers and their breeding areas, and to help educate the beach-using public about the bird’s needs. In many areas, beach users have cooperated with local interests to improve the breeding situation for plovers.
The Pacific Coast population of the western snowy plover is defined as those individuals nesting adjacent to tidal waters of the Pacific Ocean, and includes all nesting birds on the mainland coast, peninsulas, offshore islands, adjacent bays, estuaries and coastal rivers.
“The health of threatened and endangered species is strongly linked to our own well-being,” the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service wrote in a statement last March. “Millions of Americans depend on habitat that sustains species like the Pacific Coast population of western snowy plover – for clean air and water, recreational opportunities and for their livelihoods. By taking action to protect imperiled native fish, wildlife and plants, we can ensure a healthy future for our communities.”
The Pacific Coast population of the western snowy plover was listed as a “distinct population segment,” on March 5, 1993.