The Piping Plover is a “Threatened” species under both the state and federal Endangered Species Acts. As the Commonwealth’s population of the Piping Plover has begun to recover, due to intensive monitoring and management undertaken by municipalities and other beach operators in accordance with state and federal guidelines, increased management flexibility is needed to maintain and increase recreational opportunities while providing adequate protection for these vulnerable, ground-nesting birds.
To address these needs, the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries & Wildlife (MassWildlife) is working in partnership with a number of coastal towns, property owners and other stakeholders to develop a Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) and obtain an Incidental Take Permit (ITP) from the US Fish & Wildlife Service. The HCP would enable the MassWildlife, working with towns and other landowners, to improve public access and implement special conservation measures to benefit the Plovers, at appropriate sites where opportunities exist, thereby benefiting recreational users, managers, and the statewide population of Piping Plovers. CBI facilitated the first meeting of the Working Group in May 2014.
The stakeholder group is comprised of roughly 45 participants from state and federal agencies, environmental groups, beach managers, town leadership, beach landowners, beach users, and other interested parties. Participants represented a variety of interests, including conservation organizations, recreational organizations, and business interests. The structure of the group was informal, with new participants joining as the process unfolded and varying levels of participant involvement. The stakeholder group meets regularly to identify HCP goals and objectives, identify areas of interest, determine milestones for completion of the Plan, and review draft HCP materials. The group is playing an advisory role to DFW; the group does not necessarily seek consensus on all issues, and participation does not necessarily signal endorsement of the Plan or all of its components.