Three-acre beach restoration project produces first nesting Snowy Plovers in nearly 70 years

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Pilot study area after three years of protection and restoration. Plant cover has gone from zero to 5% coverage, which offers enough cover for plover nests.

Sandy beach restoration is simple and effective. A three-acre pilot project at Santa Monica Beach by The Bay Foundation has lead to the first nesting by Snowy Plovers in Los Angeles region in nearly 70 years. This was in 2017. Since then, plovers have remained in the area but not yet re-nested.

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This tiny project demonstrated “restore it and they will come.”

In fact, only two acres were actively restored thru not much more than a sand fence to build up sand hummocks and the distribution of native plant seeds to encourage dune vegetation. Add a key final ingredient: the absence of people and “beach grooming” (raking by trucks dragging large rakes). The third acre, on the ocean side of the restored section, was left un-groomed, a rarity in southern California. This leaves the “seaweed” (aka beach wrack), home to invertebrates and food to shorebirds. The cessation of beach grooming  has already been correlated with an increase in shorebird foraging.

Furthermore, a new native plant species, or possibly a rare variant, was discovered at the site, having germinated on its on. For a very detailed report on the project, see the project website.

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Snowy Plovers, a state and federally listed species, nest on sandy beaches, often putting them in conflict with human recreation.

 

1 thought on “Three-acre beach restoration project produces first nesting Snowy Plovers in nearly 70 years

  1. Plovers have become much more common up here in San Francisco over the 15 years I’ve lived near the beach. Unfortunately there is no enforcement of the laws restricting dogs and people from the dunes that remain. Everyday there are dozens of people in the dunes preventing any significant nesting. Flocks of plovers do scour the sand and must be nesting further south near Ft Funston. Is there a plan to prevent people from tramping over your three acre plot?

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