The United States Fish and Wildlife Service will close most of the beach above the mean high tide line at the National Wildlife Refuge along the Atlantic Ocean in Amagansett and the Jessup's Neck peninsula at the Elizabeth A. Morton National Wildlife Refuge in Noyac from April 1 through Aug. 31 to protect nesting shorebirds.
The 36-acre refuge in Amagansett is just west of Atlantic Avenue and south of Bluff Road, extending to the mean high tide line on the ocean shore.
The closed areas will be marked with signs, fencing, and rope. The closures protect the birds from disturbances and help to increase nest success. The public has been asked to respect the closed areas, keep the refuge beaches and trails clean, and avoid disturbing wildlife.
The partial closures at the two locations are an annual management action. The public will still be able to access Morton's Wild Birds Nature Trail and a portion of the beach during the closures.
The piping plover, designated as federally threatened, and the least tern, which New York State lists as threatened, are among the shorebirds that nest in the two areas. Two pairs of piping plovers and seven pairs of least terns nested at the Morton refuge last year. One pair of piping plovers and 14 pairs of least terns nested at Amagansett.
Human disturbance, predators, and loss of habitat are the principle threats to endangered and threatened birds like the piping plover, for which beach closures provide undisturbed nesting, foraging, and resting habitats. Public compliance in previous years has resulted in increased nesting success for plovers, terns, and other breeding migratory birds such as osprey, according to the Fish and Wildlife Service.
Information and updates on this year's nesting season can be found at fws.gov/refuge/elizabeth_a_morton. Additional information on the beach closures can be obtained by calling the Long Island National Wildlife Refuge complex headquarters at 631-286-0485 or writing to the headquarters at 340 Smith Road, Shirley 11967.