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State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection
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July 24, 2003

Contact: Jack Kaskey

Brigantine 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 season.

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.



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