June 20, 2013
UPDATE: Four piping plover chicks
continue to forage at Ramp 43
By IRENE NOLAN
The Park Service
road out to Ramps 43 and 44 and the Cape Point Campground had no
traffic on it this morning, and the area at the ramps was like a ghost
Eight vehicles were in the parking area next to the fish
cleaning tables. Their occupants presumably parked there to walk
out Ramp 44 to the ocean beach – which is a good hike.
Ramp 44 is chained off, closed to off-road vehicles.
Just past the fish cleaning tables, the road is roped off and closed to ORVs and pedestrians.
four piping plover chicks that hatched a week ago from a nest on the
ocean beach between Ramps 43 and 44 and their parents continue to
forage at a pond just west of the road near Ramp 43, according to Park
Service resource program manager Randy Swilling.
vehicle buffer for plover chicks is 1,000 meters – about .6 tenths of a
mile. If that buffer were being used, the road out to the ramps
and campground would be closed not too far past the ranger station
buildings – blocking access to the Ramp 44 parking area and the
entrance to the campground.
However, Swilling said the ORV plan
and final rule allow an exception to the 1,000-meter buffer for chicks
that are protected by a geographic barrier.
In this case, he
said, the barrier is a dune ridge or berm that runs between the two
ponds on the west side of the road as you head to Ramp 43. The plovers
are foraging in the northernmost pond, and Swilling said the Park
Service feels confident that the birds will not travel past the barrier.
“There’s just no plover habitat there,” Swilling said.
“We’re trying to be as flexible as we can,” Swilling added. “We’re making a good faith effort to not be overbearing.”
The water level in the ponds is very low, which he said makes it prime plover foraging habitat.
area will remain closed as long as the chicks are on the ground.
They usually fledge at about 28 days, which is another three weeks.
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