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26 October 2007

Share the shore

Over the past few days, I've noticed a small flock of Semipalmated Plovers hanging out near one of the fast-developing areas on the coast up here.

Hanging out with this crowd is one Piping Plover. Cute, isn't he?

Piping Plovers are listed as endangered in Canada and parts of the US. Along the Atlantic coast, they are 'threatened'. Their greatest threat? People, naturally.

I'm always amazed at how oblivious most people are to their surroundings. They don't see what's right under their noses. They're intent on enjoying thier new condos, not giving a thought to the original residents they're displacing. I watch some of these people riding their bikes or walking their dogs right through the little flocks without a second glance. Many of these people are actually annoyed that the birds are 'messing up our beach'. Some encourage their dogs to chase the birds, thinking it great fun to watch the terrified little creatures take flight.

One of my favourite tiny beach areas has the usual beach regulations sign posted. Unfortunately, many of the people who live in the condos just outside the park boundary have the attitude that this is 'their park', so they don't have to obey the rules. Despite the NO PETS rule, they walk their dogs down there, without even a leash. The dogs swim and chase birds and leave their 'calling cards' all over the beach. How nice it would be to enjoy the sand and water without having to look down all the time, dodging piles of p**p.

The sign also says no motorized vehicles are allowed on the beach. Just the other day, I watched a condo resident drive his golf cart right past the sign, around the strategically placed rocks, and all the way down the shoreline. Yesterday, we saw more tire tracks in the same area.

We get a lot of guff about our 'unfriendly' attitudes toward 'transplants'. Is it any wonder? We can watch just so much selfish destruction of the natural beauty of the place we love and hold dear. It's heartbreaking, to say the least. Will we ever learn? Once the condos start popping up, there's no going back. When the trees are gone, replaced by concrete and steel, they're gone forever. When the last bird dies, his kind will never mess up their beaches again.

Think we're better off now? Sure we make more money. We have to to keep up with the rising prices. Everything costs more in a tourist area. Upscale malls and gourmet markets charge much higher prices than Mom and Pop.

Well, I reckon I'm preaching to the choir here, aren't I? I'm thinking I need a little time in the woods this weekend. Nothing like a few hours in the national forest, knowing they can't ruin this, to put a smile on a cracker gal's face. Hope y'all all have a great weekend. 8-]


dani813 said...

I see this often. Even when we have signs and areas roped off as important bird nesting areas. Last year at Shell Key some baby skimmers and terns were killed by dogs that were let loose on the beach. It is indeed sad.

Cathy S. said...

Got your comment about my post on Paul Potts. I found his CD and DVD for $13.88 at our wal-mart. It is wonderful and worth so much more. Not only is the music calming and inspriging, but his story is uplifting as well. Glad you enjoyed it.

Floridacracker said...

When I was a Ranger we snow fenced a tern nesting area on the west side of the Matanzas A1A bridge and posted it with warning signs.
Still some, not all transplants darn it, would cross into the restricted area.
I loved writing those citations. For those folks, I suspended the usual give em a warning the first time park service philosophy and substituted my own.

I remember when I viewed large timber companies as a good thing because they were growing trees, not condos.
Then Palm Coast happened and my innocence was lost.

Now St. Joe seems to be bent on screwing up the panhandle.

rcwbiologist said...

Most birds, and all of the birds you mentioned are at least covered by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Here is some language from it.

"Establishment of a Federal prohibition, unless permitted by regulations, to "pursue, hunt, take, capture, kill, attempt to take, capture or kill, possess, offer for sale, sell, offer to purchase, purchase, deliver for shipment, ship, cause to be shipped, deliver for transportation, transport, cause to be transported, carry, or cause to be carried by any means whatever, receive for shipment, transportation or carriage, or export, at any time, or in any manner, any migratory bird, included in the terms of this Convention . . . for the protection of migratory birds".

I would say that people letting dogs off leashes to "pursue" shorebirds would be a violation. Of course, legally you would have to show intent by the dog owner to make his dog chase the birds I think. Language, language, language. Then again, maybe you could nab them for their dogs "hunting" the birds. For federally listed species like the piping plover I think you could nail someone though. Then, who is going to monitor this stuff that has the authority to enforce the laws? This is a very complicated issue as you can tell.

Sometimes if someone takes the time to really educate people, not just put signs out, they understand better. Of course, their is always going to be the ones that will never get it. I could go on and on.......

Hurricane Teen said...

Those words could have come straight out of my mouth. That's pretty much all I need to say. The reason you go out to the national forest is the same reason I go to the swamp so much.
There's a big thing going on here in St. Augustine about this developer that wants to build a 6-foot-wide, 600-foot-long dock on top of a beautiful vista along the Matanzas River. The dock would destroy part of the estuary there by blocking out the sun, and it would destoy the beautiful vista. The reason it needs to be 6 feet wide? So the rich people who live in the development can drive their golf carts down it. How lazy are these people?!?! They can't even walk down a dock?? The have to DRIVE down it?! I can't believe it.
The county commission has unanimously turned them down twice. We're getting sick and tired of all the rich people around here, and our reaction to this is showing it. I sure hope this is a sign of a turning tide.
Long comment :-D

SophieMae said...

Dani813, it really is sad. If people would only learn to think beyond their own gratification... *sigh*

Cathy, I'll definitely look for it at our local superstore. He's the kind of person I like getting to know.

FC, I hope there are a few hundred more Rangers out there with your philosophy. And don't EVEN get me started on St. Joe. >:\

RCWB, I have been wondering myownself who, if anyone, is ever there to enforce the laws. Yes, there are always those who are never going to 'get it'. Which is also why we see so many going out of their way to run over every snake they see. One would think by now... or maybe not.

HurTeen, I love long comments! 8-] Let's HOPE the tide is indeed beginning to turn. Honestly, I'm getting so sick and tired of those steenkin' golf carts! It's great to hear your county commission has some sense. Ours - but for one much-abused older man - always follows the money. They do everything they can to shut up anyone who dares speak up against their pocket-lining agenda.

Suze said...

I'm right with you on this! I live in South Florida, and I can tell you, I've been known to yell at people who aren't following rules - I'm a crazy lady, but I don't care. I yelled once at a mother who was letting her child chase ducks and their babies around, trying to catch them. As far as I'm concerned, if these freakin' people would just go back where they came from, it would be great!

SophieMae said...

Suze, Duller says I'm gonna get myself killed one day. I've gotten better about it, but I still sometimes tend to speak my mind to eejits. Like people who leave their dogs locked up in their cars when it's in the 90's. >8\

Meems said...

if only folks would enlist just the teeniest amount of common sense some of these issues would be resolved in a flash.

i often wonder why we don't all do our part by paying attention and caring about each other and the world around us. alas... seems too simple.

SophieMae said...

Meems, so true! If only comoon sense weren't so UNcommon. Too simple, indeed, for the ever-increasing 'me generation' attitude.