Beach Access and Park Issues
May 11, 2009

Ramp 44 is open again


The National Park Service re-opened Ramp 44 at Cape Point on Sunday, May 10.

And for a day, there was actually a pedestrian access corridor to Cape Point – along the shore.  You could get there without having to wade in the water below the mean low-tide line.

Today, however, that corridor is partially closed, according to Britta Muiznieks, the park’s wildlife biologist.

After observing least terns exhibiting breeding behavior and finding a one-egg least tern nest, park officials closed part of the pedestrian corridor.

The good news is that it is only a one-tenth mile full beach closure, which means you only have to wade in the surf for a tenth of a mile to reach Cape Point.  About two-tenths of a mile of shoreline is open at Cape Point.

The bad news for people who want to walk to the Point for fishing or shelling is that it probably won’t be long before piping plover chicks on the ground trigger a mandatory 1,000-meter buffer in all directions.  That is more than 10 football fields, as one reader noted in a comment on the editor’s blog.

Muiznieks said that there are currently three piping plover nests near Cape Point. Nest No. 1 has four eggs and hatch date is about June 6. Nest No. 2 also has four eggs and is expected to hatch about May 30.  And Nest No. 5, another four-egg nest, was just discovered over the weekend, so the hatch date hasn’t been pinned down yet.  The soonest it could hatch, said Muiznieks, is about May 24.

Any hatchlings from any of those nests, she said, are likely to close pedestrian access to Cape Point – even to those who wade out or come by boat.

Ramp 44 was opened again after a closure of almost two weeks after a pair of young oystercatchers that had been courting up and down the beach finally settled down and established a one-egg nest between Ramps 43 and 44.

So for those who want to know what is opened and what is closed between Ramp 44 and Cape Point, here is a try at explaining it.

Ramp 44 is open to ORVs and the beach is open to vehicles until four-tenths of a mile south of the ramp. ORVs are prohibited beyond this point. Pedestrians may proceed along a corridor near the shore for another two-tenths of a mile where there is a one-tenth of a mile full beach closure for the least terns. Those who really want to reach the Point must hike in the water below the mean low-tide line for a tenth of mile and then can come ashore at Cape Point.

If you try this, be careful and pay careful attention to the closure signs.

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