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Restrictions on Some Oregon Coast Beaches Due to Plover Nesting

Published 03/16/21 at 5:50 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Restrictions on Some Oregon Coast Beaches Due to Plover Nesting

(Oregon Coast) – Every year, the endangered western snowy plover starts a tenuous nesting season along the Oregon coast, and thus Oregon officials give them some extra room on the beaches. From now through September 15, some beach areas will have some minor restrictions to protect the sensitive plover nesting habitat. (Photos courtesy OPRD)

In all, some 40 miles of sandy areas, scattered along the Oregon coast’s 362 miles, will have ropes, signage and new rules for that period. Each is fairly remote and not in an area where lots of other beach travelers would be found.

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These beaches remain open to foot traffic and horses on the wet, packed through the season, but areas higher up – where the birds are nesting – will be off limits. Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD said all other recreation on plover beaches is off limits on both wet and dry sand, including walking your dog (even on a leash), driving a vehicle, riding a bicycle, camping, fires and flying kites or drones.

“We’re making great strides in reversing the downward slide of this species,” said Cindy Burns, Siuslaw National Forest wildlife biologist. “But it takes all of us, so we urge people to do their part to understand nesting season rules and to share the beach this spring and summer.”

These small birds nest on open sand along Oregon’s beaches. Nests, and especially chicks, are well-camouflaged. During nesting season, human disturbances can flush adult plovers away from their nests as they attempt to defend their young from the perceived predator. Left alone too long, or too often, eggs or chicks can die from exposure, predators or people.

Recreation restrictions occur in designated plover management areas: small stretches of beach along the entire coastline where plovers are nesting or could potentially nest.

On the northern third of the Oregon coast, restricted areas include off-the-beaten-path areas like Clatsop Spit, Nehalem Spit, Bayocean Spit, Netarts Spit and South Sand Lake Spit. On the central coast, near Florence, Sutton / Baker Beach will have restrictions.

Along the southern Oregon coast’s Dunes National Recreation Area, look out for the Siltcoos area, Tahkenitch South, North Jetty Umpqua River and Tenmile.

South of there, plover areas will be Coos Bay’s North Spit, Bandon, New River, Elk River, and the Euchre Creek by Ophir in Curry County.

At the Sand Lake area of Tillamook County, there is new plover activity there, as winter storms and high tides forced the birds farther north. Visitors to Sand Lake Recreation Area may see roped off areas near the lake’s inlet to protect nests, and may encounter plovers on the beach.

“Visitors will have access to hundreds of miles of beaches that have no seasonal restrictions,” said Laurel Hillmann, Ocean Shore Specialist for Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD). “By planning your trip, you can enjoy the coast and help keep these special birds safe.”

Detailed maps can be found on the Oregon State Parks website (oregon.gov/plovers) and on the Siuslaw National Forest website (go.usa.gov/xEh2h). Visitors to the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area (ODNRA) can review go.usa.gov/xdwYQ to identify unrestricted recreation areas and information on riding motor vehicles on the sand.

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