Natural Area Re-Opens to Vehicles
(03/101) TRENTON --- The Department
of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Bradley M.
Campbell today announced that a mile-long section of North
Brigantine Natural Area will re-open to vehicles starting
Friday, because endangered piping plover chicks have moved
up the beach.
"North Brigantine Natural Area this
year hosts 16 pairs of piping plovers, more than anywhere
else in the state, and this temporary vehicle closure was
part of that success," Campbell said. "The City
of Brigantine deserves our praise, not only for helping
us protect these endangered shorebirds, but also for restoring
vehicle access so quickly."
North Brigantine Natural Area has been
closed to vehicles since June 28 to protect two pairs of
piping plovers nesting at the southern boundary of the natural
area. Each pair hatched four chicks earlier this month,
and both broods recently relocated a mile north to a beach
with optimal foraging habitat.
Because the chicks have moved, the DEP
authorized the City of Brigantine to relocate its vehicle
barrier about a mile north on Friday, July 25. This will
allow permit holders to resume driving on a significant
portion of the natural area. Vehicles will be allowed full
access to the natural area when the chicks fledge, likely
sometime in the next two weeks.
Surf fishing on foot is always allowed
at North Brigantine Natural Area. People may walk on the
beach, but pets are prohibited during the plover nesting
Plovers nest on the beach near the dune
line, feeding at the water's edge. Because the tiny chicks
are flightless for about five weeks after hatching, they
are highly vulnerable to vehicle strikes.
The DEP has listed the piping plover as
endangered since 1979. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
added the species to its endangered list in 1986, classifying
the Atlantic Coast population as threatened.
Over the past 15 years, piping plover populations
in New Jersey have fluctuated between a low of 93 pairs
in 1998 and a high of 138 pairs in 2002.
Piping plovers are threatened by beach
recreation, development, disturbance by dogs, and predation
by cats. Natural events such as flood tides and storms also
threaten these beach-nesting birds.