Portland/ Parks & Nature
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Published on April 02, 2024
Oregon Calls on Beachgoers to Protect Endangered Plovers, Limits Activities Along 40-Mile CoastlineSource: Oregon Parks and Recreation Department

As beach season swings into gear, officials in Oregon are getting the word out: share the shores and steer clear of sensitive areas to protect the threatened western snowy plover. The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department and the Siuslaw National Forest have laid the law for beachgoers to minimize the disturbances to plovers during their crucial nesting season, which runs from March 15 through September 15. Visitors are urged to keep to the wet sand and to look out for roped off zones or signage that mark the birds' private nesting sanctuaries.

With an uptick in the plover population, thanks to these protective measures, the restrictions—which encompass about 40 miles of Oregon's coastal stretch—are a small price to pay for the bird's rejuvenation. Cindy Burns, a wildlife biologist for Siuslaw National Forest, highlighted the successes, saying, “We’re making great strides in reversing the decline of this species,” in a statement obtained by the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department. Burn's optimism is mirrored in the latest breeding season surveys, which have counted a substantial rise from a mere 45 breeding adults in 1993 to 433 in 2023.

To put these protective steps into practice, the usual beach fun of flying kites, operating drones, or taking the pooch for a romp in the sand will have to wait. Instead, visitors can enjoy a peaceful stroll or a beach ride along the packed, wet sand below the tide line. The guidelines are clear: no dogs, no vehicles, no bikes, no camping, no wood fires. It's part of a concerted effort to make sure the tiny, sandy-colored chicks and their nests remain undisturbed by human activities, which could lead to tragic exposures or predation.

Laurel Hillmann, an ocean shore specialist for the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, thanks beach lovers in advance for their cooperation. She adds, “We appreciate visitors' support in keeping these shorebirds safe in 40 miles of protected area along the coast. We invite visitors to enjoy permitted recreation in those areas or to recreate without seasonal restrictions on the hundreds of miles of beaches not designated as plover nesting areas,” as reported by the same state agency announcement.