Skip to comments.Snowy Plovers Soon to Close Oregon Beaches
Posted on 05/25/2004 6:09:54 AM PDT by Mr.Atos
Oregons beaches are for everyone. Those lucky enough to live here point to them with pride. We tell the story of how forward-thinking Oregonians have kept the beaches in public hands, safe from private ownership and development. That took planning, debate and consensus. We need those same skills now that we're faced with a challenge: protecting the western snowy plover (a threatened bird covered by state and federal Endangered Species laws) and allowing people to continue to use the beach.
Snowy plovers and beach recreation
For nearly two years, the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department has been collecting information, holding public meetings and creating a draft plan. It's not too late to get involved. The open, public dialogue continues today. You can start by reading about the tiny birds you see on this page, and decide for yourself how we can best share the beaches they call home.
Now, on to some specific questions and answers ...
Q1. What is going on with the beaches? Are they being closed to certain uses? No. Oregon State Parks is in the middle of a series of public meetings to gather opinions on a plan for the ocean shores and for conservation of the western snowy plover. The latter plan, called the Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP), proposes some restrictions on some areas of some beaches to help the bird population recover. It is complicated, but the bottom line is this: if any beach restrictions occur, they are at least 2 years away, in selected spots, and would not be imposed without massive public input, which is in essence just beginning.
The western snowy plover is on the federal and state threatened and endangered species list, and because OPRD manages the ocean shoreline, we are obligated to show how we propose to manage the beaches to avoid harm to this species. [Back to questions]
Q2.How can I voice my opinion? You can comment by email, letter or in person by April 2, 2004. PLEASE NOTE THIS NEW, EXTENDED DATE! Send your emails to OSMP.HCP@state.or.us. The next public meetings are:
Pacific City Kiwanda Senior Center Building Tuesday, March 16, 79 pm
Tillamook Tillamook High School cafeteria, Tillamook Wednesday, March 17, 7-9 pm
[Back to questions]
Q3.What is the Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP)? The HCP is a document that analyzes the status of the western snowy plover in Oregon, and recommends ways to increase the likelihood of its survival as a species. It is part of a submission to the US Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS), which has authority for managing species that are on the federal threatened or endangered species list. The western snowy plover is on this list.
The Endangered Species Act (ESA) essentially requires that agencies like OPRD describe how we will conduct business so that the plover is not adversely affected. The HCP does this.
OPRDs submission to USFWS, if successful, will allow OPRD to get something called an incidental take permit. This, in turn, allows OPRD to conduct routine business such as issuing permits, managing parks and so on in the presence of a listed species. It also defines more or less precisely where the beaches willand will NOTbe managed for the plovers. The other 170-plus miles of beach will not be managed (except for an exclosure if a nest is discovered). [Back to questions]
Q4.What happens if a plan is not adopted? Without a plan, OPRD could inadvertently violate the ESA just by conducting routine business on the ocean shore, like managing parks, issuing permits for special events and so on. OPRD would also be liable for public recreational use that results in harm to the plover.
Without a plan, federal or other state biologists may be obligated to prescribe how we must manage the beach. And, as has happened many times before in endangered species issues, the courts could order restrictions. That in itself could create moreand more severerestrictions than the HCP now proposes. [Back to questions]
Q5.How much beach will be affected? Where? About 57 miles (out of 230 miles of sandy beach) are proposed to be restricted, either year round or just during the plover breeding season (mid-March to mid-September). These beaches are located in 23 designated areas, called emphasis areas, from Columbia River South Jetty Spit in the north to Pistol River in the south. The emphasis areas are divided into occupiedor unoccupied depending upon whether plovers currently nest at these sites or not. There are 8 occupied emphasis areas in Oregon. The longest stretch of beach proposed is 6.7 miles at Bandon. The shortest stretch is about a half mile on Sand Lake Spit North. [SEE MAP]. [Back to questions]
Q6.What kinds of restrictions is OPRD proposing?
OCCUPIED EMPHASIS AREAS (where nesting occurs) Proposed to be Prohibited Year-Round Beach camping except in designated areas and by permit Off-road vehicles (prohibited anyway without a permit) Firework (prohibited anyway without a permit) Driftwood collection and removal, except by permit Proposed to be Prohibited from March 15 September 15 Dogs Kiteflying Walking, horseback riding, and other activities (on dry sand only) Motor vehicles UNOCCUPIED EMPHASIS AREAS (no nesting yet, but the habitat is good) Proposed to be Prohibited Year-Round Beach camping except in designated areas only and by permit Off-road vehicles (prohibited anyway without a permit) Firework (prohibited anyway without a permit) Driftwood collection and removal, except by permit Proposed to be Prohibited from March 15 September 15 Dogs Motor vehicles
The new restrictions are just proposals at this point, and we are gathering public opinion. The ultimate objective is to help the plover population recover, and be taken off the endangered species list. Restrictions will ebb if the bird population grows and its habitat improves. Some of these changes are not new rules ... they emphasize old rules (such as limitations on driving and fireworks). No areas currently designated for ATV riding are affected by these changes.
[Back to questions]
Q7.How long will they last? The 25 years youve heard about refers to the length of time that the incidental take permit would be valid for OPRD. It does not mean that beach restrictions would last that long. [Back to questions]
Q8.How did you decide which areas are emphasis areas? Several federal and state agencies have been working together for years on this, and eventually came to a compromise. The 57 piecemeal miles of Oregon shoreline is less than half of the 130 miles originally proposed in 2001 in the USFWS draft recovery plan for the plover. [Back to questions]
Q9.When will this all begin? The new restrictions, if adopted, will probably take a few years to implement, largely due to the rest of the USFWS process of obtaining an ITP. [Back to questions]
Q10.How do you know that peoples activities are harming the birds? Many studies and direct observations point to eggs being crushed, chicks dying or adults abandoning their nests when disturbed by people, ATVs, dogs, horses, even kite flying. These are skittish birds. They flush easily and if they leave their nests too many times, they wont return. Also, with the adult away from the nest, the eggs are more susceptible to predation. [Back to questions]
Q11.What else can be done besides curtailing peoples activities and enjoyment? Controlling predators (such as crows, ravens, foxes) and invasive plants (European beachgrass) are extremely important to the survival of the plover. State and federal agencies are already monitoring broods and nests, and in some places, erecting fences to keep predators out. Public education helps, as do signs, volunteer patrols and law enforcement. European beachgrass is a chronic problem. This non-native plant takes over the open beach that plovers need; it spreads rapidly, and offers cover for predators. [Back to questions]
Q12.Most of these birds live on the south coast. Why is the north coast involved? One of the ways to help the plover population recover is to encourage a wider distribution of nesting sites. If all the plovers are concentrated in one area, a natural disaster (or accident) could destroy an entire breeding season. [Back to questions]
Q13.What happens next? The paperwork process of the HCP is really just beginning. A number of federal and state analyses must be conducted if and when the USFWS approves OPRDs incidental take permit. Those include specific site plans on any emphasis areas that OPRD manages. This process could take 3-5 years. [Back to questions]
Q14. How can I get involved in plover recovery? You can educate yourself about the issue, and make your opinions and ideas known by emailing us at OSMP.HCP@state.or.us or by attending the upcoming public meetings on March 16 and 17. Public education and outreach are critical, and volunteers are always needed. [Back to questions]
How can I stay abreast of this issue? OPRDs website is regularly updated. Check our home pages and www.prd.state.or.us/osmp_hcp.php for more information. [Back to questions]
Note that for the entire spring and summer (seasonally speaking), March 15 to September 15, no dogs will be allowed on the beach... in addition to Kite flying and many other assorted activities.
Means lawsuit city for the USFWS if they attempt to delist and interfere with OPRD's socialist plans.
Can't someone come up with an epidemic that affects only snowy plovers and is 100% lethal?
Doesn't mean a thing to those plans. Those folks don't care about the status of the snowy plover except as it may provide an excuse to close off more land to human use other than their own.
I'm headed for the Oregon coast this weekend, while I still can....
"We tell the story of how forward-thinking Oregonians have kept the beaches in public hands, safe from private ownership and development."
Very telling comment in the lead paragraph. "Forward thinking" and "safe from private ownership" shows their socialist mindset right off the bat.
Yes...it is called "Snowy Plover Season"!!!
Shotguns? "We hate Snowy Plover Day"
Hmmmm....a lot like stocked Cohoe salmon being genetically identical to wild Cohoe salmon, but in this case, the lawsuit is based on a scientific misnomer...
How unsurprising and Algore-like.
I published a prediction on this beach taking for plovers three years ago. It was obvious. Snowy plovers nest from Washington to Mexico. The theory goes that if they are scarce in one place that they are "locally endangered." There is no support for this in the ESA.
For the FWS to list a local population, they must have designated it to be an Evolutionarily Significant Unit. That means that they are genetically distinct, isolated, and significant to species survival; it can't be just one of those; it has to be all three. Of course, the definition of what is "significant to species survival" is entirely up to the local bureaucrats and their dependent scientists. Anyone who would have a contrary opinion and supporting data is usually systematically frozen out of the process.
Browning makes several...
I am not familiar with Oregon law but if it's anything like California's then it only means that if the Feds delist a source of money dries up.
Yep, I remember that part, pretty predictable aren't they?
In PA and NY, we're trying to get timber rattlers delisted, on the grounds they're only rare in the places which don't have the rock formations suitable for denning.
While in PA it's now legal to take two rattlers if you have a current fishing license, it's going to be a long, uphill battle.
On Cape Cod, the Piping Plover, causes beaches to close, denies people access to THEIR homes, all so the plover can raise more plovers. Only in America are birds
more important than humans. The gubmint evens hires sharp-shooters to kill coyotes that might eat the plovers eggs.Talk about screwed up priorities.
The problem is that you have a dependent coiterie of bureaucrats involved for whom maintaining a scarcity of rattlesnakes is a life and death matter.
IMHO, until you can prove that you have a superior alternative means of managing the system, the status quo is the order of the day when the issue comes to the court.