Big plans for sharing the beach with a little bird (2010)
If you’re not a birder or a south coast beach visitor, you probably know little of the western snowy plover. And, you were probably unaware of the birds’ potential effects on your beach visits.
The western snowy plover is a small, beach-loving shorebird federally listed as a threatened species. Protective measures have included seasonally roping off its dry sand nesting sites on the south coast, directing people to visit the wet sand instead. The efforts, along with some selective beach grooming, have been successful. After 17 years, the plover population has climbed from fewer than 30 to more than 150 birds.
It took OPRD nine years to develop a Habitat Conservation Plan to balance the plover’s need for protection with people activity on the rest of the coast. The recently adopted plan has led to a win-win deal with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that allows us to keep beaches open to recreation, and at the same time, help the plover recover by improving the dry, sandy dunes they might like to use for nesting and raising their young.
In return for a special management permit, OPRD agreed to expand recovery efforts to the north coast. We will do this by making parts of the state park beaches near the Columbia River South Jetty and on the Nehalem and Necanicum spits more inviting to plovers while keeping them open to people. If we succeed, with support from the public, sightings of the rare shorebird will add to the many ways we enjoy Oregon’s open, public shoreline.
See more about our plans to help for the western snowy plover at