Earlier this spring, I wrote about my frustration with the beach closures that are enacted to accommodate nesting birds, like Piping Plovers. I referred to the closures at Poverty Beach and the Cove as a sign of spring, or a ritual for the naturalists to set aside beach areas to provide for endangered species. Sometimes my tone about the matter is slightly annoyed. What that reveals is my sense of entitlement or selfishness about the issue.
Conviction for me came in the form of a blog by Devin Griffiths, called Beaches are for Birds. Mr. Griffiths wrote: “Unlike people, Piping Plovers don’t use beaches for recreation: they rely on them for nesting sites and to raise their young. They depend on beaches for their survival. They have no choice; they have nowhere else to go.”
His blog is a lengthy article about preservation of beaches and conservation of habitats for the endangered species that stop on our shores. It made me think, that the birds don’t really have a choice in where they stop on their annual journey. But I have multiple places to walk my Golden Retriever.
Tourism officials make no secret about the value of birding from a business standpoint. Just look at any of the spring or fall post dog-walk crowds in the birding areas. Birders fill hotels, eat in restaurants, and help to build up the shoulder season in Cape May.
Mr. Griffiths’ blog opened my eyes to the sensitive nature of preserving sections of beaches. That, combined with my involvement with tourism, created a personal conflict. I can’t have it both ways. Instead, I can respect the naturalists and relocate my morning beach walks to places like Higbee or the meadows.
I feel pretty fortunate to live in an area of immense beauty. If I have to avoid an area for a season, so be it. With all the alternatives, I won’t complain. I might just be rewarded with scenes like nesting Eagles waiting for me in the new locations like Higbee Beach.
John, this is a very thoughtful, heartfelt post, and I truly appreciate your point of view–and your frustrations. As humans, we have needs and desires as well, and we should be able to exercise and fulfill them. The trick is balancing our desires with the good of a species that’s been put in peril because of our actions. I’m glad that my post struck a note with you, and I’m hopeful that as we move forward with both conservation and recreation efforts, voices like yours and mine will be able to inform both sides of the issue so that we can find that place of balance and improve the world for all its inhabitants. Thanks again!
John I am a friend of Devin and the person that brought to his attention the story on Piping Plovers and a editorial in the Boston Globe. Both Devin’s and now your Blog post are very well put and make me believe there is some common ground we can all reach to help protect wildlife and have use for people. On a side note I have been to Cape May several times for birding trips sometime with as many as seven birder/photographer friends. You are correct we spent our money at hotels, restaurants and other local businesses and I look forward to many more trips to Cape May, maybe even this fall for some hawk watching. Take care. SPC