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.
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 beaches. After 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.
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
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.