While I must admit that it was no fun shoveling the snow, especially on a corner lot home, I have to confess that driving up 25A pre-morning rush traffic and catching a glimpse of the fallen snow along scenic roads and amidst the barren trees was breathtaking. Yet, seeing the trees and bud begin to bloom is reminiscent of the fact that we “do” live on an Island, and one of the most scenic and beautiful ones at that.
So, along with the first signs of spring, common sites for native Long Islanders include a festooning of foliage, the resurgence of animals, the chirping of birds, and the eager anticipation for a return to our shores.
Yet, for many the joys of the season, especially those living by the ocean, have come to mean, fences erected to keep them off the inviting sands of local beaches, the banning of four-wheel drive vehicles, and added law enforcement officials on patrol, plus some bans on kite flying, making this favorite spring time pass time illegal in some areas.
And, even some of our finer species remain in danger of becoming endangered. In fact, the piping plover, has become the concern of both state and loc al officials as they implement a bevy of precautions to protect its kind; in many cases the reason behind closing off some beaches to the public. Officials note that the influx of visitors to Long Island beaches from both a bolstering local populace and from neighboring boroughs and The City is also putting pressure on the nesting areas for the birds.
And, this has led to Federal workers staking out an 8-mile stretch of beach to which they will construct a wire barrier with warning tags to delineate the areas where the piper plovers have previously nested.
The area is expected to span between Robert Moses State Park and Smith Point County Park, areas that have in the past proved desirable for nesting for this particular species.
Still, eastern towns will take a different approach to protecting the piper plover, otherwise they face having the aforementioned measures infused on them. And, this has led to several feuds between East End towns such as West Hampton where state and Federal regulations call for a fencing off of more than two thirds of the beach, and in East Hampton where the annual Fourth of July fireworks show had to be postponed until Labor day weekend (last year) due to officials’ concerns regarding the estimated 10,000 people expected to be in attendance and it effect on the nesting birds.
The greatest impact, according to reports is on the Fire Island National Seashore, where an additional section of beach is expected to be fences off each time a new nest is discovered, and allowing for the fences to stay up until all the birds lay their eggs, hatch, and take to the skies at or around Labor Day weekend.
Furthermore, in West Hampton Dunes, just East of Fire Island, federal officials section off such a vast area of beach that local and homeowners are relegated to using narrow paths, typically one path every three or four houses, leading down to the ocean. And, area officials note that residents have become so frustrated that they are less likely to take precautions to preserve the local environment and shoo people away from protected, sectioned-off areas.
And, while these protective measures are seen as progressive, others note that while they are geared toward protecting the plovers, they subsequently also protect their predators, which still remains and unresolved issue.
The National Seashore has also restricted beach driving, completely banning it for those who enter from Smith Point Park, and placing strict limitation on permits for those who enter from Robert Moses State Park. The only exceptions are police and emergency vehicles.
Last year it’s estimated that plover breeding on Long Island resulted in 32 chicks compared to 40 the year prior. East Hampton officials add that they saw over 90 fledges last year, a number that seems to increase annually.