Protect the Piping Plover Nesting Area

Endangered Piping Plover chicks hiding in the naturalized beach flora. (Wasaga Beach – July 5, 2016)

Much of the following was published in the Sun Times, Owen Sound – Thursday, March 15, 2018.

The Owen Sound Field Naturalists have issued an “urgent” call to action in response to the Mayor of South Bruce Peninsula’s assertion that the town will till and rake Sauble Beach this spring before the endangered piping plovers return.

The 300-member group is asking people to e-mail the municipality’s council members in an effort to prevent the work, which it says would put the tiny shorebirds and long-term health of the Lake Huron beach in peril.

People are being asked to copy their e-mails to provincial officials, including those at the Ministry of Natural Resources & Forestry (MNRF) and all the way up to Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne.

“Basically, it’s whoever you can think of that might finally influence this mayor and council to do the right thing. I honestly don’t know what else we can do other than stand in front of bulldozers and it may come to that,” Kate McLaren, president of the Owen Sound Field Naturalists’ board of directors, said in an interview Wednesday.

“We have a lot of concerned people that are just enraged by this attitude. And especially given all of the work that’s gone into plover habitat to try to keep them safe.”

Tilling the beach, she said, will remove and kill grasses and sedges that are part of dune ecology and help to stabilize the dunes and prevent erosion. The vegetation provides habitat for plovers, she said, which require grass cover to, among other things, hide from predators.

Mayor Janice Jackson told The Sun Times late last month that the town will “absolutely” be tilling the beach this spring, despite the MNRF advising against it.

The plan, she said, is to cultivate the town-owned portion of Sauble between the water’s edge and 30 feet west of the historic dunes, as per the town’s beach maintenance policy, after the ground thaws but before the plovers arrive.

Asked Wednesday about the campaign by the field naturalists group, Jackson said the town is “certainly not going to alter our position” regarding tilling the beach.

Her assertion, from her Facebook posts, is that “the tip of the beach, at Groves Point, was cleared right out by a Hiho last April. We removed all the vegetation from the last boardwalk to the breaker wall. Within days of removing the weeds and willow bushes, the Plovers landed and set up their first nest. Once they landed, we were unable to go back and remove the roots causing the growth to quickly return. It seems this MNRF map further supports the Town’s position that the Plovers will not nest on a vegetated beach. The Plovers seem to want what the majority of our community wants…. a clean beach.”

This is the furthest thing from the truth based on all science available.

This form will send emails to the Premier, the Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry and the Mayor.

Protect the Piping Plover Nesting Area

Premier Kathleen Wynne, Minister Nathalie Des Rosiers, Mayor Janice Jackson

Dear Ladies,

Piping Plovers, which are protected by both the federal Species at Risk Act and provincial Endangered Species Act, returned to nest at Sauble Beach in 2007 after a 30-year absence. Pairs of plovers have laid eggs at the beach every year since.

Tilling the beach, will remove and kill grasses and sedges that are part of natural dune ecology and that help to stabilize the dunes and prevent erosion. The vegetation also provides the habitat for plovers, which require grass cover to, among other things, hide from predators.

The MNRF has made it clear that the beach in the nesting area of the Plovers is not to be disturbed. Mayor Janice Jackson told The Sun Times late last month that the town will “absolutely” be tilling the beach this spring, despite the MNRF advising against it.

We request that the Ministry intervenes as quickly as possible to ensure that the destruction of Plover habitat does not occur. We have lost too much of our wildlife to destruction of habitat and this need not occur here.

**your signature**

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1 thought on “Protect the Piping Plover Nesting Area

  • On March 22, 2018 the Town of South Bruce Peninsula was issued a Summons under
    Section 24 of the Provincial Offences Act by the Ministry of Natural Resources and
    Forestry related to beach maintenance work undertaken on or about April 13, 2017. On
    March 28, 2018 the MNRF issued a Stop Order to the Town preventing it from doing
    any maintenance on the beach until further notice.
    The Town was surprised and disappointed in the Summons and the Stop Order. The
    Town has been in consultations with another branch of the Ministry on an annual beach
    maintenance plan. Spring maintenance and habitat protection for the endangered piping
    plover are important parts of that plan. Our draft plan includes elements to enhance
    and preserve the dune eco-system and provide protection to the piping plover and its
    habitat.
    The Town is interested in working with the Ministry to develop practical and successful
    approaches to support recovery of the piping plover, maintain appropriate habitat and
    balance human activity on an 11 km beach that draws more than 800,000 visitors every
    year.
    In the meantime, the Town will continue attempts to engage the Ministry of Natural
    Resources and Forestry staff in overdue discussions about the management of our local
    beaches and wildlife.
    Janice Jackson, Mayor
    Town of South Bruce Peninsula
    PO Box 310, 315 George Street
    Wiarton ON N0H 2T0
    519-534-1400

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