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Jul 12, 2019 4:13 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Village Announces Reopening Of Picnic Area--Before It Is Prohibited Again Hours Later

The drive-on access at the helicopter pad parking lot leads to the Picnic Area, which is currently closed to four-wheel-drive vehicles. GREG WEHNER
Jul 16, 2019 3:07 PM

Just hours after Southampton Village officials announced that four-wheel-drive vehicles would once again be permitted to drive onto the beach at the “Picnic Area”—the only spot in the Town of Southampton that typically permits daytime beach driving—the access was revoked because the endangered birds had moved back into the area.

At a Southampton Village Board meeting on Thursday night, July 11, Village Administrator Russell Kratoville read a letter from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service granting access to the Picnic Area, which had been closed to beach driving on June 25 because of the presence of piping plover eggs.

The Picnic Area is a 2,000-foot stretch of beach along the oceanfront on the western end of Meadow Lane, just east of Shinnecock East County Park. Most summers, it is the only area where four-wheel-drive enthusiasts can drive onto the beach and park during the day. This year, it is closed off because three pairs of piping plovers laid eggs that hatched within 1,000 meters of the Picnic Area.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service provides guidelines that municipalities are encouraged to follow to avoid harming the animals, or that results in them nesting somewhere else—and blocking off 1,000 meters in both directions of the eggs is a suggested measure by the federal agency.

On June 25, the Southampton Town Trustees ordered the closure of the Picnic Area to vehicles in an effort to protect the birds. The closure was expected to be in place until the chicks hatch and fledge.

Last Thursday, Mr. Kratoville read from a letter: “In order to strike a balance that will protect the piping plovers from any take and will allow our residents limited 4x4 access to the Picnic Area, we propose the following …” He went on to say that for the remainder of July, or until the chicks fledge, vehicles would be permitted to drive onto the beach at Jim Aery’s Way—the helicopter pad parking lot—on Saturdays and Sundays, but only from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Plover monitors would station themselves at the snow fence along the beach to continue monitoring them throughout the day with a spotting scope. If any of the plovers come within a 200-meter buffer between them and the vehicles that were permitted to drive on the beach, all four-wheel-drive activity would cease. Dogs would also be prohibited from going onto the beach, even on a leash.

In total, the village was going to open up 1,900 feet to vehicles, Southampton Village Superintendent of Public Works Gary Goleski said during the meeting.

But that all changed on Friday morning, when the Fish and Wildlife Service pulled the plug.

Mr. Goleski said on Friday that piping plover monitors saw that the birds had moved back to the Picnic Area that morning. He added that they may try to get the section of beach opened again to vehicles for the weekend of July 20.

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By adlkjd923ilifmac.aladfksdurwp (747), southampton on Jul 12, 19 5:11 PM
Going next weekend regardless, birds or no, arrest me if you must.
By zeke (40), southampton on Jul 12, 19 6:07 PM
1 member liked this comment
I hear plovers are good for traction.
By Draggerman (955), Southampton on Jul 12, 19 6:40 PM
They take our money in one hand, and then turn around and close the beaches. If you call their office to ask where you ARE allowed to drive with the permit they sold you, they have no idea.
By sparkhampton (27), Hampton Bays on Jul 12, 19 8:32 PM
Its the same if you bought a Village beach parking sticker...No parking lots.

Take the roads back..Now!
By V.Tomanoku (790), southampton on Jul 13, 19 8:19 AM
anyone have a few fox we can drop off ??
By Hamptonsovergrown (3), sag harbor on Jul 14, 19 8:01 AM
Speaking of the fox, there was a handful of fox living down at the ocean near the Picnic Area. Anyone see them over the winter??!! Snow owl was back at the inlet again. But not a single fox sighting......Seems they aren't there anymore..........
By toes in the water (884), southampton on Jul 15, 19 6:40 AM
Well, stay away from Lake Agawam Parking - they say we can park there until plover situation resolves itself if you have both Village & Town 4X4 permits - just got a $250 ticket - and you can bet I am going to fight it!
By FGSheahan (1), Southampton on Jul 14, 19 6:59 PM
1 member liked this comment
If you can't enjoy a beach that beautiful without a giant truck and 500 pounds of crap, I feel for ya.
By even flow (1023), East Hampton on Jul 15, 19 12:16 PM
3 members liked this comment
So does anyone know if it opened this past Saturday or Sunday?
By coolref (11), East End on Jul 21, 19 6:27 PM
the bird watchers moved the eggs, they get caught doing this by the lifeguards at jones beach all the time.
By politcal pawn (121), Flanders on Jul 21, 19 8:43 PM
this is not true
By adlkjd923ilifmac.aladfksdurwp (747), southampton on Jul 23, 19 12:04 PM
So, do u think they’ll ever be in front of the Bathing Corp?? Nope!! Not allowed there........
By masinmary (11), southampton on Jul 23, 19 6:28 PM
1 member liked this comment