EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

October 20, 2012

Battle over the birds

Fence going up to ensure their safety


State Fish and Game provides plover monitors who watch the nests daily to observe progress of the nest, the parents and the tiny cotton-ball size chicks from when they hatch until they become fledglings and fly off. They also inspect for violations of the laws.

In both Seabrook and Hampton, plover eggs and chicks have been lost to spring and summer storms that wash away the nests, to wild animals who eat them, to accidents and sometimes human vandalism, Kanter. Sometimes when parents lose nests to storms, they nest a second time. To keep the plover population in New Hampshire stable, Kanter said, each nesting pair of plovers needs to produce an average of 1.2 chicks.

The Hampton/Seabrook harbor holds most of New Hampshire’s commercial fishing fleet, and is badly in needed of dredging to ensure fishermen can access the harbor and not run aground of tons of sand that has shoaled along the bottom, making it a threat to navigation. In addition, Seabrook’s Yankee Fisherman’s Cooperative is located in the harbor basin and is where most fishermen off-load their catches for market year-round.

Khan said when presented with the problem, the selectmen felt they had to agree to the fencing to ensure the dredge takes place as soon as possible to help the local fishing industry, which has fallen on hard time due to federal fishing restrictions.

State and federal wildlife, environmental and marine agencies must sign off on Army Corps projects, according to Army Corps Project Manager Richard Heidebrecht. The fencing requirement and placement was dictated by state and federal wildlife agencies specifically in relation to placing on Seabrook Beach about two-thirds of the 172,000 cubic yards of sand expected to be dredged from the harbor, he said.

“If (the selectmen) hadn’t agreed to the fencing, we would have had to find someplace else to put the dredge said,” Heidebrecht said. “It would have held up the project. I think everyone one was a little surprised at the reason for the fencing, but considering that (Hampton) is the number one commercial harbor in New Hampshire, it was important to get the dredge completed.”

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