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Jun 17, 2019 12:18 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Suffolk County Tells Shinnecock East Campers 19 Sites May Close Due To Piping Plover Chicks

Camping along the beach at Shinnecock East County Park could be placed on hold if piping plovers, which are threatened and have been seen within 1,000 meters of the area, have chicks. GREG WEHNER
Jun 18, 2019 3:41 PM

Suffolk County officials are notifying campers with reservations at Shinnecock East County Park that 19 of the sites could be closed soon if endangered piping plovers spotted at a nearby beach in Southampton Village, known as the Picnic Area, have chicks.

In a letter sent out to the campers last week, Phil Berdolt, the county parks commissioner, said campsites 85 through 103 may be closed in the coming weeks “if and when the plover chicks hatch.”

He said the area where the sites are located, along the oceanfront, has not yet been closed, and if it does end up closing, the Parks Department would do its best to open it back up as soon as possible.

James Duryea, an environmental analyst working for the Southampton Town Trustees, told the Trustees at a work session on Wednesday, June 12, that there were three nests within the direct vicinity of the Picnic Area, the only area in the Town of Southampton where people are permitted to drive and park four-wheel-drive vehicles on the beach during the day in the summer months. The area is located just east of the Shinnecock East County Park at the end of Meadow Lane.

“We’re going to continue to monitor them, as we do throughout the town, with all the rest of the nests that we have—I’m not treating them any differently,” he told the Trustees, noting that once hatchlings are spotted in plover nests, the surrounding areas are shut down. “Once the chicks hatch, it’s 1,000 meters on both sides of each nest.”

Mr. Duryea said the closure would mean vehicles would not be allowed to drive on the beach. He added this week that he does not make the rules but follows the guidelines set by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services.

The county park is within 1,000 meters of the nests and more than likely would be included in Fish and Wildlife Service’s recommended closure area, although only county officials could make the decision to close the park area.

“It’s a highly used area, and we’re in consultation with Fish and Wildlife at least twice a week … to come up with a plan moving forward once they hatch, and make sure they have a safe, long life on the beach and survive,” Trustee President Ed Warner Jr. said during the work session. “Then we can open it up back the way it was previously.”

While the guidelines are set by the Fish and Wildlife Service, the closure would be enacted by the Trustees and the county’s Parks Department.

Mr. Berdolt told campers in the letter that the start and length of the temporary closure could not be determined at the time because it depends on the timeline of the piping plover eggs hatching and the chicks fledging.

Once the chicks hatch, they are unable to fly until they are 25 to 35 days old, and are responsible for finding their own food within the first few hours of hatching. To find food, the tiny birds run back and forth from the beach to the water.

Mr. Duryea and his team of plover monitors erected fencing around the plover nests found in the Picnic Area, marking the areas as off limits, although currently, vehicles are allowed to pass along the beach to the south of the fence.

Campers were told by Mr. Berdolt to be mindful of the plover nests.

“Even though the area is not closed to camping as of yet, the piping plover nesting areas are strictly restricted,” he said. “No persons or pets shall enter the restricted plover areas and all pets must be kept on a leash and under owners’ control.”

The areas are blocked off to prevent “take,” a term for harassing, harming, pursuing, hunting, shooting, wounding, killing or trapping plovers. If “take” occurs, fines up to $25,000 could be imposed against the town or municipality it occurs.

“I think the public should understand it’s the federal threatened endangered species program, it’s a responsibility and it’s no joke,” Town Trustee Scott Horowitz said during the work session. “We have to comply with it, and we’re doing the best that we can to comply, [while] at the same time maintaining as much public access as we possibly can.”

In addition to the county preparing to close down a portion of the campground, the Trustees announced at a meeting on Monday afternoon that they plan to close the Picnic Area to driving on June 25.

Residents can check to see which town beaches are closed to four-wheel-drive vehicles by going to infocenter.southamptontownny.gov and clicking on “Beach Closures.”

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The east end electrical grid will someday be powered by the piping plovers.
By themarlinspike (538), Northern Hemisphere on Jun 17, 19 12:43 PM
1 member liked this comment
Imagine if we took this type of action against abusers of children or as much precaution? If you abort a baby you get govt money for it. Break an egg of a piping plover get a 25k fine? What?
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Jun 17, 19 5:52 PM
With that tortured logic one should question if you should be allowed behind the wheel much less drive on a beach to drink all day.

Don’t be such a yenta. Take a towel and a book. Done. You don’t need to live on it.
By even flow (1023), East Hampton on Jun 18, 19 6:50 AM
1 member liked this comment
You are comparing apples to orangutans, great comparison.
By Fred s (3311), Southampton on Jun 17, 19 6:09 PM
How about all the pp's in front of all the estates??????
By knitter (1939), Southampton on Jun 17, 19 7:15 PM
Are the estate residents camping and driving on their beachfront?
By 2329702 (67), East Quogue on Jun 18, 19 8:42 AM
It's not their beachfront!
By RLinc (4), southampton on Jun 18, 19 12:55 PM
pretty amazing that in front of the homes with alleged plover nests the powers that be leave a nice path way for the homeowners to traverse through the hallowed ground . but the hoi paloi are banished from the beach. This is ridiculous.
By bigfresh (4653), north sea on Jun 17, 19 7:51 PM
1 member liked this comment
pretty amazing that we actually have plover nesting on many beaches from remsenburg to montauk yet do not have the resources to observe them properly so year after year we fail to protect nesting areas...

you're focusing your energy incorrectly .
By adlkjd923ilifmac.aladfksdurwp (747), southampton on Jun 17, 19 10:01 PM
2 members liked this comment
I’ll bet walking is safer then driving a car or truck through the nesting area.
By Fred s (3311), Southampton on Jun 18, 19 5:09 AM
1 member liked this comment
We aren't focusing our energy incorrectly alphabet soup. And whats pretty amazing is your past comments regarding the beach lawsuits, the homeowners and the "gross" trucks on the beach. Than your shift in opinion an now back to where u started.....wishy washy comments......HMMMMM......

The pathway should be removed! NO special privileges should be granted. What if you step on an egg??
By toes in the water (884), southampton on Jun 18, 19 7:35 AM
i can clarify for you:

i care about our wildlife and ecology.
i do not support beach driving during the late spring-early fall months.
By adlkjd923ilifmac.aladfksdurwp (747), southampton on Jun 18, 19 11:04 AM
not your place to say where my energy should be focused alphabet soup. The allegedly endangered piping plover population has increased dramatically in the last decade , so much so that there are vast parts of our beach closed down due to their nests. Time to take them off the endangered species list and let us continue enjoying one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. It would be nice if a few foxes got to the plovers and eliminated the problem.
By bigfresh (4653), north sea on Jun 18, 19 1:44 PM
1 member liked this comment
Great reply. Your concern for the environment is noted. Kill endangered species so you can drive on the beach. Give yourself a little pat on the back for your stand.
By Fred s (3311), Southampton on Jun 18, 19 2:07 PM
foxes do eat the plover eggs.
you can focus your energy wherever you want - you've got my permission.
By adlkjd923ilifmac.aladfksdurwp (747), southampton on Jun 18, 19 2:17 PM
Fred, "time to take them off the endangered species list" bc they have clearly made come back. Too many closed beaches right now means these bird can probably be removed from the list.

West side of Napeque is closed. Same for Cupsouge east of Moriches intel. Smith Point.....just to name a few
By toes in the water (884), southampton on Jun 19, 19 7:31 AM
If piping plovers are a problem in your life then you have no problems
By country joe (60), sag harbor on Jun 18, 19 6:29 AM
3 members liked this comment
Birds belong on beaches. It’s their natural habitat. The beach is not the natural habitat of the vehicle. In fact there are thousands of species native to the coastline and waters- none of which is a pick up truck.
By even flow (1023), East Hampton on Jun 18, 19 6:47 AM
2 members liked this comment
Neither are houses, roads, fences, beach umbrellas, towels, etc., etc. In facts all the tropes of civilization are not part of the natural habitat; your home, the garbage you create, the pesticides you dumb on your lawn. None of it belongs here. Go set up your soap box in the western plains of Africa, the cradle of humanity, and then preach.
Jun 18, 19 6:59 AM appended by Preliator Lives
sorry for the misspellings, typing fast. only one cup of coffee
By Preliator Lives (436), Obamavillie on Jun 18, 19 6:59 AM
And the beach is MY native habitat. Why is it that we can blast roads through mountains, create massive bridges over waters and hollow out tunnels underground for subways and tunnels but yet beach driving is shamed ?? Birds fly , they belong in the air....how many birds are killed by plane propellers. WE humans dont belong in the sky, if so we'd have wings. We dont want Wind turbines off our waters bc of the damage it creates ....but we can build bridges to islands so we can alter the natural habitat? ...more
By toes in the water (884), southampton on Jun 18, 19 7:57 AM
So what PL is saying is that we shouldn't even bother trying? That's it all f***ed already and we should just let everything die?

That's a great attitude.
By johnj (1024), Westhampton on Jun 18, 19 10:45 AM
Let me know the first time you see a bird nest in the sky.
By Fred s (3311), Southampton on Jun 18, 19 8:11 AM
2 members liked this comment
Oh Fred, really? Lol! You know what I'm getting at..

And just bc you dont agree with 4x4 beach driving doesnt mean its wrong! Id offer to pick u up and bring you down for a day at the beach but I have a feeling we would be fighting before the days end.
By toes in the water (884), southampton on Jun 19, 19 7:24 AM
Here’s a hint, I drive on the beach. I think it’s completely irresponsible to disregard an endangered species because you have to drive on the beach. I surf, I fish , but I can also look at the big picture. It ain’t the end of the world to protect a tiny baby bird for a few months.its a bunch of bull about nothing.
By Fred s (3311), Southampton on Jun 19, 19 7:44 AM
you surf Fred? REALLY?? Must be one of the walk on Summer only posers.
By bigfresh (4653), north sea on Jun 27, 19 5:23 PM
1 member liked this comment
Hahahahah, I don’t stand up paddle board. That ring a bell?stop with your foolishness.
By Fred s (3311), Southampton on Jun 27, 19 5:28 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By mychildmatters (70), SOUTHAMPTON on Jun 23, 19 8:36 PM