EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

October 20, 2012

Battle over the birds

Fence going up to ensure their safety

SEABROOK BEACH — An 800-foot-long wall of snow fencing is being installed along Seabrook Beach, due in part to clashes with neighbors over piping plovers nests and an effort to create more habitat for the tiny endangered birds.

Selectmen had to agree to allow the installation of the sand fencing behind the dunes in order for the badly needed dredging of Hampton/Seabrook harbor to take place this year, according to Selectman Aboul Khan. The fence will run from Hooksett Street south to roughly Tyngsboro Street, along a stretch of beach where there are numerous beach homes. Town-owned accessways at the end of streets will be left open, but several private access trails will be closed.

The dredging to start in mid-November will be conducted by the Army Corps of Engineers, but the protective fencing was mandated by New Hampshire Fish and Game and the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service so the town could get a large chunk of the dredge sand to be redeposited on Seabrook Beach, Khan said. The two wildlife agencies had to sign off on the dredge plans, including the sand distribution, before the dredge could take place, he said.

Selectmen found themselves stuck between plover nests and a clogged harbor that is hampering the struggling commercial fishing fleet, Khan said. They felt they had little choice but to go along with the wildlife agencies’ demands. Khan said he was told by state and national wildlife officials that the fencing mandate arose because the town had not done enough to protect the tiny piping plovers who have nested annually on the beach since 1996.

For years there had been a good relationship between the Seabrook community, state and federal wildlife agencies and the plovers, said John Kanter, co-ordinator of the non-game and endangered wildlife bureau for the N.H. Fish and Game Division, but recently there’s been problems.

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