Snowy Plover chicks parent Malibu Lagoon 2017, Photo by Grace A. Murayama and Larry L. Loeher

About the Cover Photo: One of our home-grown Snowy Plover chicks (right) with it's parent at Malibu Lagoon in the summer of 2017. | Photo by Grace A. Murayama and Larry L. Loeher.

Los Angeles Audubon’s Conservation Program for the Western Snowy Plover, a Federally Threatened bird species found on Los Angeles County Beaches, faces an uncertain future. Federal funding that supported this program in the past, and appeared to be on track for a 2-year renewal starting in February 2018, has been unexpectedly cancelled.

Since 2007, project biologists Thomas Ryan (Ryan Ecological Consulting) and Stacey Vigallon (Los Angeles Audubon Society) have coordinated community-based conservation programs to monitor California Least Terns and Western Snowy Plovers on beaches in Los Angeles County, engaging volunteers in bird surveys, habitat restoration, and outreach opportunities. These collaborative projects built upon the observations painstakingly collected by members of Santa Monica Bay Audubon Society and Palo Verde/South Bay Audubon Society, and other local birders and biologists prior to 2007. We are fortunate to count these groups as current partners and collaborators to this day.

Information gathered by volunteers and biologists through the Snowy Plover Monitoring Program has helped to document the important role that beaches in Los Angeles County serve as wintering habitat for plovers. Approximately 190 to 330 Snowy Plovers overwinter in Los Angeles County each year, accounting for roughly 28% of wintering Snowy Plovers in Recovery Unit 6 and 7% of the California population. Through this project, we have established positive working relationships with beach management agencies, resulting in seasonal plover enclosures at two beaches. Over 200 community volunteers have participated in plover conservation activities and thousands of local public school students have learnd about plovers and beach stewardship through our outreach programs. This project has also helped us successfully partner with beach recreation facilities, allowing us to provide plover-themed beach walks for the public at the Annanberg Community Beach House and the Dockweiler Youth Center. In recent years, we have partnered with Sea & Sage Audubon to extend and synchronize Snowy Plover monitoring efforts in Orange County.

In 2017, plover conservation in Los Angeles took a leap. For the first time in nearly 70 years, Western Snowy Plovers nested on Los Angeles County beaches. This is a critical time for plovers and it’s imperative that ongoing, uninterrupted data collection and public engagement is maintained to help support the survival of this threatened species.

We are seeking funding from several sources, including National Audubon and other grants as well as a crowdfunding campaign to replace some of the federal funds we lost for the Plover Conservation Program, but time is not on our side.

We urgently need $25,000 to cover a portion of one year’s budget for Western Snowy Plover conservation efforts. The funds will pay for permitted biologists to conduct roost and nest surveys on a monthly basis targeting known plover roost sites in Los Angeles County. Should nests be detected, permitted biologists will coordinate with local, state, and federal agencies to implement protective enclosures and install nest exclosures to keep dogs, people, and predators away from nests.

We believe that maintaining a consistent community-based monitoring program in Los Angeles County is one of the most effective ways to help Western Snowy Plovers: it directly engages the public in plover conservation and provides data to beach management agencies, biologists, and other Audubon chapters. We are extremely grateful to the Audubon chapters and community volunteers for their contributions to this program.

How can you help? You can help by spreading the word about the importance of the Snowy Plover Conservation Program to friends and associates, and by making a donation to http://losangelesaudubon.org/donate

Thank you.

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