Piping Plovers Win Again – Feds Filibuster Beach Sharing Plan

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WickedLocal.com – Some of Scott Morris’s favorite childhood memories are of spending summers driving onto Nauset Beach with his family and he was hoping that after nearly a decade of beach closures his children could have the same experience. But they may have to wait until next year.

With U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials asking for a 10th rewrite before they begin a three- to six-month review process, the group that has been working on a plan that balances protection of piping plovers with public access is recommending the town wait a year before it’s implemented.

“We are doing everything to oblige all the requests of the federal government and they are still coming,” said Morris, the past president of the Massachusetts Beach Buggy Association and member of the working group. “It’s something we can’t rush. We have waited for seven years, if it means waiting one more year to do it right we will. We are not giving up.”

“It’s not looking very good for summer 2014. The federal government can’t finish what they have to do,” said Selectman John Hodgson, who has been leading the effort.

The working group will continue to push and refine the Habitat Conservation Plan, which, if implemented, would be the first of its kind on the East Coast.

Our stance on the Piping Plovers is well documented here but this is absolutely beyond ridiculous at this point. Please read this next excerpt in full as it really shows what we are talking about here.

The delay is frustrating, said Hodgson, because the plan hinges on responsibly moving past two nests, or less than a mile of beach. Once that gauntlet is passed – provided there isn’t another nest at the beginning of the trail – miles of beach are open to off road vehicles that have used the outer beach for decades. The plover nests at the beginning of the trail, which is narrow, closed the beach extending toward Chatham to vehicles for 80 days last year. The habitat conservation plan sets up specific protocols to have closely monitored vehicles pass by nests with chicks – which is not allowed under current regulations.

Selectmen Summers is beginning to see why there isn’t an habitat conservation plan on the East Coast.

“Incredibly, after working for nearly a year, spending hundreds of hours of time and lots of money in creating a 365-page document that includes what the federal government essentially told us they needed, and after having submitted that document on nine separate occasions with requests for repeated revisions and changes we still have not received the approval of the government to pass by a few birds on the beach,” said Summers.

A 365 page document submitted and revised nine separate times over a year at the expense of countless man hours and tax dollars, and we still can’t drive by two birds nests to access miles of beach. It’s preposterous, it’s outrageous, and it literally defies logic. I’ve said it before and I will say it again. If we were talking about humans and not birds there is zero chance that they would close miles of beaches to thousands of citizens because two people decided to nest there. They would be removed by the police and put in jail.

The federal government has spoken. A few birds are simply more important than tens of thousands of tax paying American citizens. Makes sense when you think about it. After all, this country was BUILT on the backs of Piping Plovers. Maintaining their quality of life and preserving the Plovers slice of the American Dream should be Washington D.C.’s #1 priority. Right?

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