There are now four chicks on the ground from a piping plover nest that began hatching last Thursday, June 13, between Ramps 43 and 44.
In addition, the parents have moved the chicks to the north and they are foraging in a pond next to the parking area for Ramp 43.
Randy Swilling, natural resource program manager for the seashore, said last week that when the nest started hatching on the ocean beach, the parking lot at Ramp 43 remained open to vehicles, despite the 1,000-meter ORV buffer because there was a natural barrier – a dune – between the nest and the parking area.
Also, the beach north of Ramp 43 remained open to pedestrians.
However, now that the piping plover chicks are foraging near the pond, the parking area is closed and there is no pedestrian access at Ramp 43.
Basically, there is no pedestrian or vehicle access past the fish cleaning tables near Ramp 44.
There is still pedestrian access out Ramp 44, which is a much longer hike. Pedestrian access is allowed for a short distance south of the ramp and also to the north.
The buffer for pedestrians around plover chicks is 300 meters.
The time from hatching to fledging for piping plover chicks is about 28 days, so the area could remain closed for the next three to four weeks.
Swilling said he has talked with other seashore resource biotechs, and none can remember a piping plover nest in the area between Ramps 43 and 44, so this could be a first.
Ramp 45 and the Salt Pond Road are also closed to ORVs and pedestrians.
Currently, there is no ORV access between Ramp 38 south of Avon and Ramp 49 in southern Frisco at Billy Mitchell Airport and the Park Service campground. Thus, there is no ORV access in the Buxton area.