Sandy Hook cancels summer concert series after piping plover nest discovered

Piping plover with chicks at Cape May, N.J. (Courtesy of Kevin Karlson)

Piping plover with chicks at Cape May, N.J. (Courtesy of Kevin Karlson)

Federal officials say they’ve canceled an annual summer concert series at Sandy Hook after the discovering of a piping plover nest.

The nest was found at Sandy Hook’s Beach E — the planned location of the Sandy Hook Foundation’s series — during the week of June 3, said Daphne Yun, Gateway National Recreation Area spokesperson.

Since noise disturbs piping plovers, a federally protected and endangered shore bird, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service restricts activity that generates loud sound within 1,000 meters of a nest, according to Yun.

“We want these special birds to thrive,” said Gateway National Recreation Area Superintendent Jen Nersesian.

She said park staff attempted to find an alternative location but couldn’t locate the right spot to meet the Sandy Hook Foundation’s needs or the spirit of the series.

“We are disappointed right alongside our visitors, but appreciate everyone’s support in helping to save a species on the brink,” Nersesian said.

Sandy Hook is a federal park with the northernmost beaches in New Jersey. Officials say piping plovers have built more than 20 nests along the park’s beaches, where nearly half of the state’s pairs nested over the last 10 summers.

In Island Beach State Park, piping plovers have forced the closure of a stretch of beach.

New Jersey has seen a steady decline in the number of piping plovers nesting along the state’s 130 miles of beach. Last year, just 96 nesting pairs were counted along the length of the state, said John Heilferty, the acting chief of the Endangered and Non-Game Species Program under the DEP’s Division of Fish and Wildlife.

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