The way it should be done ... rite?
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Date: May 8, 2015
Contact: Kevin Sloan, Refuge Manager Phone: 757-336-6122
Efforts to Protect the Threatened Piping Plover
Include Temporary Closure of OSV Zone at Chincoteague Refuge
Many visitors who frequent Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge this time of year will not be
surprised to hear of temporary beach closures that occur seasonally within the Over-Sand
Vehicle (OSV) zone. Quite frankly, it’s another sign that summer is fast approaching, marking
the beginning of the high tourist season and another busy nesting season for the many species of
birds found on the refuge.
The Hook and Overwash areas of Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge are prime habitat for a
variety of beach-nesting birds such as piping plovers, American oystercatchers, as well as black
skimmers. Shorebirds such as red knots, ruddy turnstones, and a variety of sandpipers use this
area as a critical feeding and staging area during their long distance migrations. Other wildlife
species also need access to undisturbed shoreline in order to survive. In recent years an increase
in sea turtle nesting has also been noted in these areas. The refuge, having been designated a
Globally Important Bird Area, is a part of the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network
and designated as one of the top ten birding hotspots by the National Audubon Society.
The Hook and Overwash are also considered prime fishing areas and are open to the public for
approximately 7 - 8 months (fall, winter, and early spring) each year to provide access for
fishing. During this time, the OSV Zone is open.
In order to protect the Atlantic Coast piping plovers, listed as a threatened species under the
Endangered Species Act (ESA) since 1986, the entire OSV Zone will be closed to all public
access, including vehicles, pedestrians, boats and horseback riding. This closure will take effect
at 10 p.m., Friday, May 15, 2015 and will encompass the entire southern end of Assateague
Island south of the beach parking area. The seasonal closure also protects the nests and young of
many other species of shorebirds during this critical time in their reproductive cycle. The OSV
zone will reopen to public access after all young birds are able to fly.
The needs of wildlife come first on all national wildlife refuges. This temporary closure is
required by the Biological Opinion completed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2008.
The document, compiled in cooperation with the Service's Virginia Ecological Field Office,