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Friday, June 26, 2015

DEM re-opens East Beach- Ninigret Conservation Area

But be careful of plovers
PROVIDENCE - The Department of Environmental Management announces that as of 9:00 a.m. Friday, June 26, the East Beach Sand Trail will be open for public access from the beginning of the sand trail up to camping area 1. This will allow for camping at 10 sites in camping area 1 (sites 1 - 10) and provide public access to the sand trail for fishermen and those using the 4 x 4 barrier beach.

Camping area 2 will remain closed through approximately July 31 to provide protection for the piping plover, a small shorebird that is listed as threatened on the federal and state endangered species lists. Reserve America, which handles campground reservations for DEM, will be contacting affected campers.

All alternatives to avoid a full closure of the sand trail were reviewed and discussed by the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and DEM staff, and the decision was made to allow access to a safe point and avoid further conflicts between wildlife and off-road vehicles.

Hurricane Sandy changed the face of the Rhode Island coastline and beaches for the public as well as for piping plovers.

On East Beach there are many over-wash areas that provide access for young birds and piping plover chicks that have been feeding and taking refuge along the sand trail.

USFWS staff and volunteers monitor the nests and broods on a daily basis and are looking forward to the time when the young birds are ready to fly and the trails can be re-opened and protective roping can be removed.

Throughout this summer and into the fall, DEM, USFWS and the Coastal Resources Management Council will work together to plan the restoration of these dunes in order to restore vegetation between the beach and the sand trail.

This is expected to reduce the likelihood of the piping plovers utilizing the sand trail.