Middletown, N.J. – Gateway National Recreation Area announced today that full beach closures of designated nesting beach areas will begin to be implemented starting this Friday, May 21, for shorebird conservation.
Beach closures are established on an annual basis to protect nesting and brooding shorebirds, including the federally threatened piping plover and the federally endangered roseate tern. Within the park’s Sandy Hook and Jamaica Bay units, the upper beach is closed when the birds arrive and begin nesting. Designated nesting beaches in the Sandy Hook Unit are closed to all visitors use, including fishing, surfing, and beach bathing once nests begin to hatch and chicks are on the beach.
Piping plover chicks need to increase their weight five times within several weeks of hatching so that they’ll be able to thrive and fly. The plover chicks need access to the shoreline to feed in order to achieve this necessary weight gain. The presence of people on the beach causes chicks and their parents to expend energy running up and down the beach to avoid this perceived threat. Interruption in feeding and energy expenditures prevents chicks from thriving and leads to chick mortality.
All along the Atlantic coast there are fewer than 3000 nesting pairs of plovers. Over the last 10 years Sandy Hook has consistently supported 40-50 % of the N.J. nesting plover pairs. These beach closures and the shared stewardship of visitors are necessary ingredients for another successful breeding season.
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Updates on which beaches are closed will be posted weekly on our social media pages. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter at GatewayNPS for these updates. You can also visit our website at www.nps.gov/gate to find out about piping plovers and so much more.
About Gateway National Recreation Area
Gateway is a large diverse urban park with 27,000 acres spanning Sandy Hook in N.J. and Jamaica Bay and Staten Island in N.Y. It offers green spaces, beaches, wildlife, and outdoor recreation, all alongside historic structures and cultural landscapes. It is the 4th most visited National Park Service unit with more than 9.2 million annual visitors. For more information about Gateway, visit www.nps.gov/gate.