June 25, 2014

UPDATE:  Park Service modifies buffer
for nesting terns in north Avon

Superintendent Barclay Trimble today allowed the modification of a buffer around a least tern nest in north Avon that had closed the ocean beach in front of about nine houses on Pamlico Court.

Trimble said today that the required 100-meter buffer was reduced to 50 meters.

Park Service public affairs specialist Cyndy Holda said that a park biologist did field tests yesterday to determine at what distance the nesting bird would be flushed off the nest. The bird was "bumped" off the nest when the biologist got within 50 meters of the nest. So the buffer was cut in half.

Holda said she understands that only about three houses are now affected.

The Park Service also straightened out the path between the toe of the dune and the closure that serves as a foot path for people in the  houses who want to get past the closure to the area of beach that is open.

Holda noted that, according the Park Service's Final Environmental Impact Statement on the off-road vehicle plan and final rule, the superintendent has the discretion to reduce buffers in some cases.

According to the FEIS, the park can "reduce those buffers in the immediate vicinity of paved roads, parking lots, campgrounds, buildings, and other facilities, such as within the villages or at National Park Service (NPS) developed sites, the NPS retains the discretion to provide resource protection to the extent possible while still allowing those facilities to remain operational.”  

The incubation time for least tern nests is about 21 days.  The nest is thought to have been established last Saturday and is located near the northern Avon village boundary and just south of a pre-nesting area for colonial waterbirds.

If the nest hatches, the buffer for unfledged chicks is 200 meters.  If the nest is lost, the buffer will stay in place for two weeks in case the pair tries again.


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