Protect One of Florida’s Last East Coast Beach Bird Refuges!
Your voice is needed right now.
|Gull-billed Terns flirted on the Point's |
beach earlier this year, but have already
been “driven” away.
Huguenot Memorial Park in Jacksonville is the most important beach-nesting bird site on Florida’s Atlantic coast. In 2011, it was the largest Royal Tern colony in the state. It provides federally designated critical wintering habitat for threatened Piping Plovers, and is a crucial stopover site for rufa Red Knots on their long migration from Tierra del Fuego to their Arctic home.
It is also an overwhelmingly popular beachgoing site where beach driving packs the beaches with cars on busy, warm weather weekends.
In recent years,improvements at Huguenot have created more safe areas for birds, reducing the number of baby birds crushed by vehicles and the number of vehicles swamped by the incoming tide.
However, the improvements still fall short of protecting and restoring the park’s bird diversity. As a result, the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) recently called on the park’s federal owner, the Army Corps of Engineers, to include better protections for migratory birds in its renewed lease to the park’s manager, the City of Jacksonville. The full text of the US Fish and Wildlife Service letter can be downloaded here (30 pages, 3MB PDF).
Please take two minutes now to write the Army Corps of Engineers and the office of Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown in support of these important protections for wildlife, habitat and public safety. For greatest impact, tailor the message’s subject, intro and content to best reflect your perspective.
|Will inadequately protected Black Skimmers |
fail again this year?
The USFWS letter* calls for:
(1) The establishment of car-free, pedestrian-friendly bird protection areas from April 1 until about Labor Day weekend (in 2011, protected areas did not begin until late May).
(2) Pre-posting a protected area on the inlet-facing upper beach to allow species like Black Skimmers to nest successfully.
Gull-billed Terns, Least Terns, Black Skimmers, Wilson’s Plovers and American Oystercatchers have nested in the park in years past, but in recent years have been negatively impacted by beach traffic.
The additional benefit of these recommendations? More family-friendly parts of the beach—a two-year old girl was run over by a truck on the beach at Huguenot last month (she was airlifted to the hospital and fortunately survived).
Even with these recommendations, a large part of the park’s coastline would remain open to driving during the warm weather months, and all of it open during the winter. But public beach driving interests are objecting to these modest recommendations.