The Western snowy plover nesting season doesn’t begin until Tuesday, March 15, but beachgoers will be noticing fences and enclosures earlier this year. Because high tides will prevent the safe installation of fencing next week, Forest Service employees are erecting rope enclosures Feb. 29 through March 4 around designated nesting sites on the Siuslaw National Forest and within the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area.
The Western snowy plover is a federally protected shorebird. Seasonal restrictions from March 15 through September 15 reduce disturbances while the birds are nesting. Campfires, pets, bicycles, off-highway vehicles and kites are prohibited within the closure areas as they can frighten nesting adults, causing them to abandon their eggs.
“We appreciate everyone’s efforts in helping this species recover on our Oregon beaches,” said Cindy Burns, Siuslaw National Forest wildlife biologist. “By sharing the beach, we can continue to make it an enjoyable place to be for all its inhabitants.”
Signs attached to the ropes notify visitors that the closures won’t be enforced until March 15.
Nesting areas within the Siuslaw National Forest include:
· Baker/Sutton beaches
· Siltcoos estuary north to within a ½ mile of Sparrow Park Road
· Oregon Dunes Day Use beach
· Tahkenitch Creek estuary
· Ten Mile Creek estuary south to the Coast Guard South OHV Trail
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed Western snowy plovers as a threatened species in 1993. Habitat loss from invasive European beachgrass, as well as human disturbances, including litter and discarded food scraps which attract predators, have contributed to the birds’ decline.
Part of the Siuslaw National Forest and its partners’ Dunes Restoration strategy is aimed at removing European beachgrass near nesting areas to improve habitat conditions.