Nesting season for Western snowy plovers, a federally threatened shorebird, begins March 15 on several Oregon beaches. Beachgoers are asked to follow nesting season restrictions, which continue through September 15, on area beaches to protect snowy plover eggs and young.
In some places known to be occupied by plovers, vehicle and bicycle access to the beach is prohibited during nesting season, as is camping and campfires, dog walking, and kite flying. In these plover nesting areas, hiking and horseback riding are allowed on wet sand, while dry sand is closed to all uses. Signs and ropes clearly mark which areas are off-limits during nesting season.
On the Siuslaw National Forest, snowy plover nesting areas are found at Baker/Sutton beaches, Siltcoos estuary, Oregon Dunes Day Use beach, Tahkenitch Creek estuary, and Ten Mile Creek estuary. This year, beachgoers in the Tahkenitch area will find new signage reminding them of nesting season restrictions in effect beyond that sign, due to the discovery of new plover nests in 2014. This signage, which is placed 0.6 miles north of where Sparrow Park Road meets the beach, supersedes an earlier placement of a vehicle access sign 1.7 miles north of this location.
Western snowy plovers were listed as a threatened species by US Fish and Wildlife Service in 1993. Habitat loss due to the spread of nonnative, invasive European beachgrass is one major factor contributing to population declines, as are other human activities that disturb nesting birds and attract predators to nesting areas. In addition to implementing nesting season restrictions, the Siuslaw National Forest is working with a large group of partners to restore the Oregon Dunes, an important snowy plover area. Facilitated by the Forest Service, the Dunes Restoration Strategy brings together stakeholders representing a variety of interests (including motorized and non-motorized recreation advocates, biologists, community members, and more) to focus on the mutual goal of restoring the ecological functionality of the Oregon Dunes while maintaining them as a world-class recreation area.
Detailed information on Siuslaw National Forest nesting season restrictions, as well as links to Oregon State Parks plover information, is found at http://go.usa.gov/3atCJ.