BERLIN, Md.– Superintendent Trish Kicklighter has announced that a new area of Assateague Island National Seashore will be temporarily closed to public use in order to protect breeding piping plovers.
The closed area includes the portion of the public over-sand vehicle route south of kilometer marker (KM) 18.0. All vehicle use south of KM 18.0 will be temporarily prohibited.
The updated closure will begin on June 15 and remain in effect for up to four weeks. Kicklighter said that in order to continue to accommodate overnight camping, the designated "bullpen" camping area will be temporarily relocated north of the new closure area within the existing OSV zone.
The interior portion of northern Assateague Island, including much of the island north of Assateague State Park, has been closed to public use since April. However, the ocean beaches along northern Assateague Island remain open and accessible from Assateague State Park and from the boat landing area on the Island's northern tip.
Kicklighter said area closures are necessary to protect piping plovers, small migratory shorebirds that nest on open, sandy beaches and raise their chicks along the ocean, bay and interior sand flats where they feed on insects and other invertebrates.
On Assateague, the piping plover breeding season generally runs from April through mid-August. Plovers are easily disturbed by humans and will leave their nests or feeding areas if approached, Kicklighter noted.
Piping pipers are listed as "threatened with extinction" by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service due in part to the loss of natural breeding habitat elsewhere along their East Coast range.
Kicklighter said Assateague Island is the only nesting site in Maryland and one of the densest breeding areas in the Mid-Atlantic region, making this population critical for long-term survival of the species.
Kicklighter acknowledged that actions to safeguard sensitive species like the piping plover may affect some aspects of public use, but said she is confident that with a little patience and flexibility, visitors to Assateague Island will have a rewarding experience.
For more information about Assateague Island National Seashore visit www.nps.gov/asis
Monday, May 20 2013 6:45 PM EDT2013-05-20 22:45:16 GMT
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