Snowy plover season is back. And once again, conservationists are alleging the federally threatened dune birds are not getting the protection they need along the Sand City shoreline, which is considered critical habitat.
The protected birds' presence is an environmental hurdle for the developers of two proposed Sand City hotels, Monterey Bay Shores (an "eco-resort" with a condominium component) and The Collections at Monterey Bay.
Blake Matheson, president of Audubon Society's Monterey chapter, says he recorded a video of a plover nest containing one egg on the Monterey Bay Shores site April 10. "There were about 20 or so [plovers] using the site then and the subsequent week," he writes by email.
Point Blue Conservation Science, a Petaluma-based nonprofit that monitors plovers, has documented five nests in the Monterey Bay Shores project area this season.
On May 4, Point Blue provided the California Coastal Commission and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service with a map of five beachfront nests found south of Ford Ord Dunes State Park in Sand City.
"Multiple pairs of plovers, including four different color-banded females, are currently utilizing this stretch of beach for nesting, which represents a substantial increase in use compared to 2014," the document states.
"To date, no measures have been employed to protect these nests from trampling and at least three nests have already been lost, including one to human trampling. Due to the substantial use of this beach by the public, a portion of the lower beach should be cordoned off with post and cable fencing and informational signage for protection of these vulnerable nests."