The Bay Area Plover Wars Continue into 2009 – R U a Plover Lover?

San Francisco has had its share of battles about beaches, dogs and Western Snowy Plover birds so it’s only logical that nearby Pacifica, CA gets into the act as well. Some dog owners down there are hopping mad, as you might expect in light of San Francisco’s recent experience.

But, as you can see from this shot from Ingrid Taylar‘s San Francisco, these little dickens have cuteness on their side. And that always helps.

Stay smooth, Pacifica.

Brace yourself, this photo of an adult plover on Ocean Beach gets extra big when you click on it:

Of course San Francisco is for Plovers, as the T-shirt says:

More deets after the jump.

Godspeed, little plovers!

Whereas Title 14, Section 4312 of California Code of Regulations prohibits dogs on state beaches of California(“News Release,” 6 August 02).  California Park Superintendent Paul Keel requested that Pacifica “change all beach signs which mention dogs so that they clearly show that dogs are prohibited on all sand areas of Pacifica State Beach” (Letter to the City of Pacifica, 28 Oct 08),

Whereas the following environmental organizations have officially urged the City to enforce CCR Section 4312 in order to protect the threatened species Western Snowy Plover:

•    Planning and Conservation League, the California affiliate of the National Wildlife Federation (7 July 08)
•    The National Wildlife Federation (7 July 08),

Whereas the Sequoia Audubon Society “urge you (the city of Pacifica) to follow the recommendations of the California Department of Parks and Recreation for protection of the Western Snowy Plover from dog disturbance”  (29 April 2008),

Whereas the Point Reyes Bird Observatory “strongly recommends ensuring the protection of birds and of the beach dependent wildlife (per state Parks regulations), and also provide for off-leash dog activities elsewhere” (18 September 08),

Whereas the Loma Prieta Chapter of the Sierra Club “supports the position of the Sequoia Audubon Society with respect to the necessity of protecting Western Snowy Plovers” (31 July 08),

Whereas approval and funding for an off-leash dog park was passed by the Pacifica City Council 8 December 2008,

Whereas the Open Space Committee appreciates both the City’s added enforcement of the leash law and its planned additional signage on Pacifica State Beach,

Now, therefore, in order to effectively protect the Western Snowy Plover, the Open Space Committee hereby requests that the City of Pacifica require that dogs be prohibited on all sand areas of Pacifica State Beach.

United States Department of the Interior
Golden Gate National Recreation Area
Fort Mason, San Francisco, California 94123
May 15, 2008
To: General Superintendent, Golden Gate NRA
From: Bill Merkle, Acting Chief of Natural Resources/Wildlife Ecologist
Subject: Rescinding Seasonal Emergency Restrictions to Protect Western Snowy
Plovers in the Ocean Beach Snowy Plover Protection
I recommend that you exercise the discretionary authority delegated to you under 36
C.F.R. Section 1.5 to rescind the regulatory public use limit in the park’s Compendium
that required all pets to be on leash seasonally in designated portion of Ocean Beach.
This restriction was enacted to seasonally protect the Western Snowy Plover, a species
listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act. Data from our Western
Snowy Plover monitoring program indicate that plovers were last observed at Ocean
Beach during the first week of May, with at least two surveys conducted since that time
without any Snowy Plovers observed. Over 13 years of monitoring plovers at Ocean
Beach, May 14 has been the latest date plovers have been observed on the beach. Based
on this information, I am confident that overwintering Snowy Plovers are no longer
present on the beach. To date, we do not have any information indicating that Snowy
Plovers are using this area for breeding.
Recommended Regulatory Actions:
I recommend that you rescind the public use limit in the Compendium Amendment
specifically designed to protect the Western Snowy Plovers that overwinter in the Ocean
Beach Snowy Plover Protection Area while monitoring indicates that the plovers are
present on the site. The text of the Compendium amendment is as follows:
• Ocean Beach: Dogwalking is restricted to on-leash only at Ocean Beach, Stairwell 21 to Sloat
Boulevard, including all tidelands (as depicted in Figure 2). The definition of on-leash use
requires that dogs must be restrained on a leash which shall not exceed six feet in length.
“This activity restriction is necessary to provide an area of reduced disturbance for resting and
feeding by the Western Snowy Plover (Charadrius alexandrinus nivosus), a species listed as
threatened under the federal endangered species act. This seasonal restriction will remain in effect
until monitoring determines the species is no longer present, as announced by the General
Superintendent. “
The Compendium Amendment was enacted to seasonally protect overwintering Snowy
Plovers. Data from our Snowy Plover monitoring program indicate that overwintering
Snowy Plovers have not been on the beach at Ocean Beach since one (1) Snowy Plover
was observed during monitoring on May 06, 2008. Surveys for Snowy Plovers are
conducted Wednesdays and Saturdays every two weeks. Two surveys have been
conducted since May 06, 2008, with no Snowy Plovers observed. Based on a more
extensive data set of Snowy Plover monitoring at Ocean Beach that covers 13 years,
overwintering Plovers tend to leave the beach by the end of April or mid-May, and the
latest date plovers have been observed on the beach is May 14. There have not been any
indications of Snowy Plovers breeding at Ocean Beach. Thus, I am confident that
overwintering Snowy Plovers are not present on the beach at Ocean Beach.
The rescission of this Compendium Amendment prohibiting dogs off-leash will not
adversely affect overwintering Snowy Plovers as they are currently not present at Ocean
Beach, having migrated to breeding areas.
I recommend resuming monitoring for Snowy Plovers at Ocean Beach on July 1, when
overwintering Snowy Plovers potentially begin showing up in this area. Based on
monitoring data from Ocean Beach and limited data from Crissy Field, the public use
restriction should be reinstated on July 1 (either through a special regulation or
compendium amendment) to allow early migrating Snowy Plovers to find suitable habitat
at Ocean Beach.
It is further recommended that the long-term dog management options for these two areas
be addressed in the Dog Management Plan/EIS and rule that the park is actively engaged
in. This process should be completed by late 2009. Addressing the Crissy Field Wildlife
Protection Area and Ocean Beach Snowy Plover Protection Area in the EIS will allow for
all options to be investigated and may result in the retention of the leash requirement or
may result in the adoption of a different option.
Applicable Law and Policy:
The Western Snowy Plover is protected under the federal Endangered Species Act. 16
U.S.C. Section 1531 et seq. The 2006 National Park Service Management Policies
provide guidance to the NPS for the management of threatened and endangered species.
Section of the Management Policies states that the NPS “will fully meet its
obligations under the NPS Organic Act and the Endangered Species Act to both
proactively conserve listed species and prevent detrimental effects on these species.”
Based on monitoring data indicating that Snowy Plovers have left this area for the season,
the Park should rescind the prohibition of dogs off-leash in the Ocean Beach Snowy
Plover Protection Area. Recession of the prohibition would allow for off-leash dog use,
per the Federal court opinion in June 2005, while the Snowy Plovers are seasonally not
present on the beach. This issue will be resolved through a more thorough and public
process of formal rulemaking and the development of a Dog Management Plan/EIS and
its accompanying rule in late 2009.
Process for Rescinding Emergency Compendium Restrictions:
Under 36 C.F.R. Section 1.5, superintendents are authorized to take emergency action to
protect park resources. In both emergency and non-emergency situations, park
superintendents may adopt compendium provisions that restrict visitor activities.
Except in emergency situations, prior to implementing or terminating a restriction,
condition, public use limit or closure, the superintendent shall prepare a written
determination justifying the action. That determination shall set forth the reason(s) the
restriction, condition, public use limit or closure authorized by paragraph (a) has been
established, and an explanation of why less restrictive measures will not suffice, or in the
case of a termination of a restriction, condition, public use limit or closure previously
established under paragraph (a), a determination as to why the restriction is no longer
necessary and a finding that the termination will not adversely impact park resources.
This determination shall be available to the public upon request.
Public Notice:
All NPS previously posted signs, brochures and the Park’s website indicated that this
public use limit would be seasonal, in effect from July 1— May 1(or until Snowy Plovers
are determined to have left the beach). The Park website and telephone hotline will be
updated with information related to the rescission of the public use limit. Members of the
former Negotiated Rulemaking Committee for Dog Management at Golden Gate
National Recreation Area, Golden Gate Audubon staff and volunteers and NPS Snowy
Plover docents will be informed via e-mail.
/s/ Brian O’Neill
I concur: (signed original on file) Date:____5/15/08____________
General Superintendent
Golden Gate NRA

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