Snowy Plover Critical Habitat Protection Measures at Point Reyes National Seashore for 2004
Contact: John Dell’Osso, 415-464-5135
Contact: Dawn Adams, 415-464-5202
The federally-listed threatened snowy plover nesting season is underway. Point Reyes National Seashore has approximately 30 – 35 adult plovers that breed on the beaches here. With the partnership of Point Reyes Bird Observatory Conservation Science, the snowy plover population has been monitored annually since 1995. Efforts to protect the plovers include roping off breeding habitat on upper sections of beaches and the construction of “exclosures” around their inconspicuous nests immediately after an egg is laid. To assure success occurs this nesting season, the annual closure of a small stretch of the Point Reyes Beach to dogs will be initiated again.
“It is critical to minimize disturbance to nesting plovers and chicks during the nesting season for these birds to have a chance of surviving.” stated Superintendent Don Neubacher. He added, “We must do what we can to help this species survive over the long-term and this is one step we can take to reach this goal. We ask everyone’s help in this effort. We appreciate everyone’s support for closures in past years.”
Closing a small stretch of the 12-mile beach to dogs is important to minimize disturbance during this critical time. The stretch of beach starting at ¼ mile north of the North Beach parking lot and continuing to a point ¼ mile south of Kehoe Beach, will be closed to dogs from Saturday, March 13th through Monday, September 6th, 2004. The closures encompass less than five miles of this 12-mile beach area. Other popular beaches such as Limantour and Kehoe Beaches remain open as alternatives for park visitors with dogs. All dogs are required to be on leash.
Exclosures are wire fencing with twine wrapped around the top, erected at the nest site. The plovers have easy access in and out of the wire mesh but the eggs are protected from their number one predator, ravens, as well as other predators.
Since 2001, the Seashore has received funds from the Point Reyes National Seashore Association to hire a ranger to coordinate the snowy plover docent program. The program uses volunteer docents to provide information and education on the snowy plovers at beach trailheads during the highest visitation period on weekends. This program was successful in reaching more visitors with information on closures and their importance to increasing the plover population at Point Reyes. Rangers and volunteer docents will be on-site again this season from Memorial Day through Labor Day. For more information on volunteering at Point Reyes National Seashore, call (415) 464-5145.
As part of a long-term strategy to improve the critical dune habitat for plovers and other rare species, the Seashore initiated a long-term dune restoration project in 2001. Nonnative European beachgrass has been removed from over 30 acres near Abbotts Lagoon since the project began. In 2003, four of the twenty-two plover nests were in this restored dune habitat providing a great measure of success.