It is the Friday of Memorial Day weekend. As of this morning, at 10am, there are still NO threatened and endangered species signs posted at Good Harbor Beach.

Despite the pandemic, every other city and town along the Massachusetts coastline that has threatened and endangered birds nesting on their beaches has SIGNS.

Friends, I hate to ask you, but if you could, Please share this post and please write to your Councilors (see address below). Thank you!

This is why we need signs and the reason could not be any clearer.

Woman leaving the dunes after going to the bathroom (not posting her going to the bathroom photo)

and cutting through through the nesting area.

As I was leaving the beach several nights ago and turned to have one last look at how beautiful was the light, the woman in the photos was cutting through the nesting area to use the dunes as a bathroom. You can’t blame the beachgoers for cutting through the nesting area because there is not a single sign at GHB explaining about the birds. 

The lack of signage is just plain cruel to the birds. And it is equally as cruel to our citizens because what if, God forbid, a beachgoer accidentally steps on an egg or stray ball injures a Piping Plover? How terrible will they feel, and how many tens of thousands of dollars will we be fined by the state and federal government if there is a take?

Why are signs so important and impactful? For the simple reason that they alert people to the presence of the birds. They are used at every beach along both the Pacific and Atlantic Coasts, as well as at lakes regions.

Please don’t write to say the City is short of manpower because we have a very simple solution. Essex County Greenbelt has signs. They are willing to put them up immediately and only need the go-ahead from the City. 

Additionally, who will we call when the inevitable eggs are laid? Gloucester’s conservation agent applied for, but was denied, a permit, for her lack of experience.

We have been writing letters to the City, beginning this past January and prior to the pandemic outbreak, to try to understand the City’s overall plan for the Piping Plovers, but we have been completely stonewalled. We were assured months ago that “everything was under control.”

It is utterly ridiculous that we are being put in this position of endless letter writing to beg for signs, especially during the pandemic when we have families and work to take care of. 

This year we thought was going to be easy, with the new dog ordinance for the beach, Greenbelt’s trusted assistance, and a cadre of people who care deeply about the birds, along with their willingness to spend time monitoring tiny chicks at Gloucester’s most popular and populous of beachesAfter four years of working toward improving conditions for the nesting shorebirds at GHB, the PiPls are being thrown under the bus for what we can only surmise are personal and political reasons.

It is my understanding that Governor Baker made continuing to protect endangered species part of the original essential worker pandemic plan and that is why state wildlife officials have not been furloughed.

A Piping Plover update from the City administration is planned for the City Council meeting Tuesday at 7Pm.  It is a live Zoom meeting. I think a link will be provided and I will post that here and on Facebook.

If you have not already done so, and you have a spare moment, please write to our City Councilors. 

Please keep letters kind and friendly, or just simply copy paste the following:

Subject Line: Piping Plovers Need Our Help

Dear City Councilors,

Gloucester Plovers need our help. Please ask the Conservation Commission to install the threatened species signs at the symbolically cordoned off nesting areas and at the entrances at Good Harbor Beach.

Thank you for helping these birds raise their next generation.

Your Name

Link to all the City Councilors, but I believe that if you send one letter and also cc to Joanne Senos, a copy will be sent to all the City Councilors. Her address is: JSenos@gloucester-ma.gov

Our Good Harbor Beach mated PiPl pair courting – Papa fanning his tail feathers and bowing, all for Mama’s benefit. Photo taken yesterday, May 21, 2020.

Here is a timeline compiled based on film footage, photos, and notes. As you can see, because of the timely assistance provided by Greenbelt, at this time last year, our chicks more than half way to hatching. We don’t even have eggs yet this year!

2019 Piping Plover Timeline Good Harbor Beach 

March 25  Piping Plover pair arrive GHB.

March 27  Symbolic fencing and signage installed by Greenbelt at areas #3 and #1

April 28  First egg laid (estimated date).

May 3  Greenbelt installs wire exclosure.

May 4  Adults begin brooding all four eggs.

May 31  Four chicks hatch.

2020 Piping Plover Timeline Good Harbor Beach

March 22 Piping Plover pair arrive at GHB

March 27  11.5 foot deep narrow strip of symbolic roping is installed along the length of the entire beach. No one has responded from the conservation office re. Is this meant to protect the dunes? It is much, much narrower than the area delineated the previous four years by Greenbelt.  No signs installed at this time, as they had in previous years at the time of installing roping.

April 17  Symbolically roped off area widened by boardwalk #3, the area where the PiPls have nested and courted the previous four years. No signs installed at this time.

May 11  A second pair of PiPls is trying to become established at GHB.

May 13  Still no signs, continued dog disturbance, kite flying next to nesting area, human and dog footprints in roped off  #3 area.

May 21 Exclosure erected at Coffins Beach for nesting PiPls. Installed by Greenbelt.

May 22 Still no threatened or endangered species signs at Good Harbor Beach, continued dog disturbance, kite flying next to nesting area, human and dog footprints in roped off  #3 area.



  1. Melissa Cox

    If you think a sign was going to stop that woman from going through ROPES/BARRIERS you are naive. A BARRIER should have been enough.
    Instead of encouraging people to email us, why not reach out to one of us and get the information to share with your readers instead of insighting action that is already being done.

  2. Kim Smith

    Hi Melissa,

    So good of you to write.

    To my knowledge, symbolic roping has never been enough to deter people from stepping into protected nesting areas. Yes, in an ideal world, that may be enough.

    However, most people who are visiting Good Harbor Beach are there to have fun and are not really thinking about the consequences of running through the roped off areas. That is why signs are so helpful and that is why signs are used at every endangered/threatened shorebird nesting site across America, along East and West Coast beaches, as well as Great Lakes regions.

    As far as “reaching out,” I have been reaching out through writing letters for the past several months. The only persons who responded to our inquiries about signage, roping off the nesting area, and the exclosures are Scott Memhard and Sean Nolan. Scott has only received the most curtest of responses from the city. As of Thursday, May 21, no one had communicated with Scott, or any of we letter writers, that signs were going up on Friday,May 22nd.

    We were told back in March that everything was under control, which was not the case. The roping and signage should have been installed as soon as the Piping Plovers arrive, and Greenbelt was ready, able, and willing to do the job in a timely fashion, as they have done the previous four years. For some reason, the City no longer wishes to work with Greenbelt. No explanation has been given, just a frustrating series of nonresponses.

    In 2019, the PiPls arrived to GHB on March 25. On March 27th, TWO DAYS later the signs were installed. In 2020, the PiPls arrive on March 22. The signs were installed TWO MONTHS later, on May 22nd. I understand everyone’s world has been turned upside down and we would hardly expect to make demands on the City. The thing is Greenbelt has been our partner for the past four years, they did an outstanding job, and they were willing to install on March 23rd.

    As I have reminded everyone in the previous half dozen letters sent, securing a quiet safe area for the PiPls as early as possible leads to early nesting, which leads to early hatching and fledging. We are TWO MONTHS behind from the date the signs were installed last year. Subsequently, we still do not have nests with eggs, unlike many of the North Shore beaches with PiPls that arrived at the same time as did ours. Last year at this time our PiPl family were a week away from hatching four eggs.

    Another question we have been begging to be answered is who is going to install the wire exclosure when the Piping Plovers begin laying eggs. Possibly you can provide the answer? We have asked this question a dozen or more times. The conservation agent tried to get a permit at the last minute but was denied for lack of training. It takes a highly skilled and specially certified person to do the job. Again, we ask, who will be installing the exclosure, and equally as important, who do we contact when we see a nest with eggs?

    To get back to signs. There are nine (unless I counted wrong) signs running along the entire length of GHB. This is a good start however, they are spread very far apart. We hope that as the birds settle in, an adequate number will be posted, similar to the spacing done in previous years by Greenbelt.

    You will see that I wrote the post Friday morning, after checking in with the PiPls and finding still no signs. As soon as my husband texted in the early evening that there were signs, I immediately put up a second post.

    I would love not to have to spend hours upon hours upon hours writing letters begging for roping, signs, and answers to the question, who will be installing the exclosure. Last year, we had a wonderful crew of volunteers and a great working partnership with Greenbelt. This year we could easily have added to the success of fledging three chicks but for some mysterious reasons not known to us, Greenbelt has been dismissed and we find ourselves begging for answers to basic questions. That is hard enough, but what is far worse, the birds are suffering for it.


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