Conserving the Nature of America
Recovery Plan for Pacific Coast Population of the Western Snowy Plover To Rely on Strong Volunteer Effort

September 24, 2007


Division of Public Affairs
External Affairs
Telephone: 703-358-2220

Al Donner 916-414-6566 ()">)
Jane Hendron (Southern California Coast), 760/431-9440
Lois Grunwald (Central California Coast), 805/644-1766 ext 332
Randy Brown (Northern California Coast), 707/825-5122
Phil Carroll (Oregon), 503/231-6179

Plan Covers Entire Pacific Coast of California, Oregon and Washington
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) has completed a cooperative plan to recover the Pacific Coast population of the Western Snowy plover, a tiny shore bird, to a sustainable level where it can be removed from the federally protected category.

"We strongly believe that a collaborative stewardship approach, involving government agencies and the private sector is critical to achieving the ultimate goal of recovery," the plan emphasizes. The plan covers the entire Pacific Coast of California, Oregon and Washington. Notice of the plans availability was published today in the Federal Register.

In contrast to recovery strategies designed for species that are remote from concentrations of people, the plover plan will rely heavily on six comprehensive recovery working groups. The different approach for the plover is due largely to the heavy human presence on, and dynamic nature of, beach areas where plovers live.
"These groups can provide large networks of volunteers who can be mobilized to assist public resource agencies," the plan explains. Working groups associated with each of the recovery units include a wide range of interests with land managers and environmental interests, and diverse groups of beach users from equestrians to Boy Scouts.

Non-government organizations, such as PRBO Conservation Science (formerly Point Reyes Bird Observatory) and Audubon Society, conduct research, provide technical guidance, and inform the public in ways they can help manage and conserve the plover.

The recovery plan seeks cooperative management and monitoring, mixed with education and public participation, to restore the plover to sustainable numbers.
The plover is a tiny beach bird, weighing less than two ounces. Plovers spend their lives at the popular line where surf and sand meet. They are at their most vulnerable when nesting; the birds lay their eggs in slight depressions in the sandy areas of beaches, preferring areas where there are few barriers down to the water.
Because West Coast beaches are very popular and attract many visitors, plover nests are vulnerable to disruption and destruction throughout the month-long incubation period. Chicks remain vulnerable for another month after hatching, until they can fly. Pacific Coast snowy plovers breed and nest during highest period of beach use, March through September.

The recovery target established in the plan is to maintain an average of 3,000 breeding adults for 10 years distributed through the six recovery units, with at least one fledged chick per adult male for the last five years.

Goal: Number of Breeding Adults
The plover was listed as "threatened" in 1993. Under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) the listing provides broad protection for the species without regard to habitat. Under the ESA, no one may harm or injure a species in any way. Last year the Service designated 32 units of critical habitat along the coast of California, Oregon, and Washington for the Pacific coast population of the plover, totaling 12,145 acres, although the Service asserts that a formal Critical Habitat designation provides little additional protection for a species.

The plover has been the focus of several legal challenges from beach users; at the same time many government agencies and volunteers are working to help the species. The recovery plan seeks to draw all interests together in a coordinated effort to assure the long-term survival of the species. In 2006 the Service completed a five-year review of the plover in response to two petitions to delist it. The Service concluded that, while the plover is making progress in some areas, it is not sufficiently recovered to remove its protections under the ESA.

A link to a copy of the final recovery plan and other information is available on the Internet at or by contacting the Arcata Fish and Wildlife Office by telephone at 707-822-7201.

Information contained in older news items may be outdated. These materials are made available as historical archival information only. Individual contacts have been replaced with general External Affairs office information. No other updates have been made to the information and we do not guarantee current accuracy or completeness.

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit

For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit Connect with our Facebook page, follow our tweets, watch our YouTube Channel and download photos from our Flickr page.