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Western snowy plover nesting season begins on southern Oregon coast

March 12, 2014

​The nesting season of the western snowy plover, a small shorebird native to the Oregon coast, begins in mid-March. That means that as of March 15, beachgoers will see signs and ropes that identify sensitive western snowy plover nesting areas, and visitors will need to adhere to any restrictions that will be in effect. The bird is protected under state law and under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA).

In Oregon, a number of land managers oversee beach activity for plover protection, particularly the U. S. Forest Service (USFS), the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD). Plover nesting activity is typically concentrated along the central and south coast beaches. More detailed maps can be found at bit.ly/wsplover.

Dry and wet sand restrictions will be in effect at Sutton/Baker Beach, on the beach from Siltcoos Estuary to Tahkenitch Estuary and from just south of the Douglas/Coos County line south to Tenmile Estuary (northern Coos County), the North Spit of Coos Bay, Bandon State Natural Area, and New River area beaches.

This year, "no dogs" and "no kites" restrictions are being implemented on about 2.35 miles of sandy beach at Tahkenitch South, an area adjacent to the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area. The restrictions begin approximately 0.8 miles north of the Sparrow Park Road beach access. The area remains closed to vehicles.

Plovers nest in dry open sand, in tiny, shallow scrapes that are very well camouflaged. Not only are nests easy to miss (or step on), but the bird will abandon its eggs if repeatedly disturbed by activities it considers a threat. If a beach is home to nesting plovers, people can still walk along the wet sand portion of the beach, but some recreation is curtailed. Dogs are not allowed, either leashed or unleashed, and driving any kind of vehicle, flying a kite, and similar activities on the wet sand are prohibited. Where plovers nest, all recreation in the dry sand areas is off limits.

Plover management areas total about 50 miles of Oregon's 230 miles of sandy shoreline. The restrictions are in effect until September 15.

Contact: Chris Havel
Email: chris.havel@oregon.gov