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Contact: Outer Banks Group, 252-473-2111
Outer Banks Group Superintendent Mike Murray announced that effective Sunday,July 15, 2007, off-road vehicle (ORV) and pedestrian access is temporarily closed to the southern end of Bodie Island Spit to protect piping plover chicks that have recently hatched at a nest near the southeast corner of the spit.
Bodie Island Spit on the north side of Oregon Inlet is one of the most popular beach destinations in the National Seashore. The temporary closure begins approximately 1.2 miles south of Ramp 4 and extends 0.9 miles south and west around the southern end of the spit to the sound shoreline near Bonner Bridge. To offset the temporary loss of access, the National Park Service (NPS) has opened an additional 0.5 miles of beach north of Ramp 4 (and south of Coquina Beach) to ORV access. A total of 3.4 miles of national seashore beach north of Oregon Inlet remains open for ORV access via Ramp 4 which is located at the north end of the Bonner Bridge.
"We recognize there is a strong desire for recreational access in this location, particularly at this time of year," said Superintendent Mike Murray. "We are doing our best to protect a federally listed Threatened species, while at the same time trying to be responsive to the desire for public access when and where we can. The situation is temporary. Park biologists will monitor the area daily and we will make adjustments in access when feasible, based on the location, mobility and behavior of the chicks. We appreciate the cooperation and compliance from the public in complying with the closures that have been in effect."
Piping plover chicks are typically mobile within 24 hours after hatching. Once mobile, the chicks will leave the nest and move extensively along the beach, intertidal zone, and mudflats to feed. Plover chicks have been documented to move hundreds of yards from the nest site during their first week of life. Piping plover chicks fledge (are able to fly) 25 to 35 days after hatching. Closure areas can typically be reopened after the chicks fledge.
Beach areas used by chicks, for foraging and resting, etc. are closed to off-road vehicles (ORVs) since the typical behavior of piping plover chicks increases their vulnerability to ORVs. Chicks frequently move between the upper beach to moist sandy feeding areas such as mudflats and the intertidal zone. These movements can place them in the path of vehicles on the beach. Chicks sometimes stand motionless or crouch as vehicles pass by making them difficult to see or they simply do not move quickly enough to get out of the vehicle’s way. Tire ruts also cause problems as chicks often stand in, walk, and run along tire ruts and have difficulty crossing or climbing out of deep ruts.
The Endangered Species Act (ESA) prohibits harassing, harming, pursuing, hunting, shooting, wounding, killing, trapping, capturing, or collecting federally protected species. Penalties for violations of the ESA for threatened species include a fine of up to $25,000, imprisonment for not more than six months, or both.