Photo 23 Aug 24 notes Piping plovers and storm recovery: Can the shorebird help us save our beaches?

Hurricane Sandy passed through this area after my icy walk last year, and I revisited it a few weeks after the storm. My mother had evacuated her home on Atlantic Beach, then moved back to deal with a flooded basement and the worries of living close to the shore. I walked down to the beach, which had lost much of the finer sand. To the east, the houses were intact; the lawns still late-autumn green. To the west, workers were emptying homes by the pailful. They piled wet sand on the beach and hoisted rugs, furniture, Sheetrock, and keepsakes onto what was left of patios.
What had made the difference? To the east was a dune system, about 10 feet high, covered with beach grass and a few young pines: a barrier to the storm surge. To the west, the beach resembled a parking lot, graded and regraded over the years, an easy path for any storm with a decent amount of power.
Workers were moving sand and plugging it with beach grass in the area that had been protected from the storm. The winter shorebirds were back on the coast, preoccupied as ever, racing toward the ocean for a quick meal, chased back by the waves. Several Brant geese flew overhead. At the same time, up the beach, some coastal residents were doing what they’ve always done: grading the strand and carelessly encroaching on the dunes. Homeowners who paid for an ocean view were starting to groom their welcome mats for the next storm. As beach geologist Orrin Pilkey once said, “If you can see the ocean, the ocean can see you.”
Some coastal residents resent the restrictions imposed by the Endangered Species Act to protect threatened shorebirds. But others suspect that piping plovers can help us preserve our shorefront lifestyle—that the land we protect for them can serve as a barrier when the storms come through, protecting human property. It’s a pleasing notion. The truth, however, is more complicated than that.

(Read more at Slate Magazine)

Piping plovers and storm recovery: Can the shorebird help us save our beaches?

Hurricane Sandy passed through this area after my icy walk last year, and I revisited it a few weeks after the storm. My mother had evacuated her home on Atlantic Beach, then moved back to deal with a flooded basement and the worries of living close to the shore. I walked down to the beach, which had lost much of the finer sand. To the east, the houses were intact; the lawns still late-autumn green. To the west, workers were emptying homes by the pailful. They piled wet sand on the beach and hoisted rugs, furniture, Sheetrock, and keepsakes onto what was left of patios.

What had made the difference? To the east was a dune system, about 10 feet high, covered with beach grass and a few young pines: a barrier to the storm surge. To the west, the beach resembled a parking lot, graded and regraded over the years, an easy path for any storm with a decent amount of power.

Workers were moving sand and plugging it with beach grass in the area that had been protected from the storm. The winter shorebirds were back on the coast, preoccupied as ever, racing toward the ocean for a quick meal, chased back by the waves. Several Brant geese flew overhead. At the same time, up the beach, some coastal residents were doing what they’ve always done: grading the strand and carelessly encroaching on the dunes. Homeowners who paid for an ocean view were starting to groom their welcome mats for the next storm. As beach geologist Orrin Pilkey once said, “If you can see the ocean, the ocean can see you.”

Some coastal residents resent the restrictions imposed by the Endangered Species Act to protect threatened shorebirds. But others suspect that piping plovers can help us preserve our shorefront lifestyle—that the land we protect for them can serve as a barrier when the storms come through, protecting human property. It’s a pleasing notion. The truth, however, is more complicated than that.

(Read more at Slate Magazine)

#Piping Plover #Charadrius melodus #Charadrius #Charadriinae #Charadriidae #Charadrii #Charadriiformes #Terrestrornithes #Neoaves #Aves #shorebird #plover #New York #Long Island #Hurricane Sandy

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    A passage from a longer article exploring the piping plover’s relationship with its ever-changing coastal habitat, and...
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