The work of Maine Audubon’s Coastal Birds Crew was in the spotlight last month as the Old Orchard Beach Chamber of Commerce named Maine Audubon the Nonprofit Organization of the Year at a ceremony on October 12. Coastal Birds Project Director Laura Minich Zitske and Biologist Laura Williams accepted the award on behalf of Maine Audubon.
2022 was another record-breaking year for Piping Plovers in Maine, with 140 pairs nesting on Maine beaches, fledging 252 chicks. The high numbers this season were a summation of small successes across all of the beaches monitored, and the results show that each beach is essential to the overall success of the endangered Piping Plover.
Zitske expressed her appreciation to all the volunteers and partners, and especially to the community of Old Orchard Beach. “Some of the business owners have made an incredible pivot from seeing the birds as a burden to an asset. Some hotels and rentals have embraced the birds and used this as an example of their great beach stewardship to their guests, demonstrating what a special place the beach really is!” She acknowledged that it sometimes can mean more work for them to make way for plovers on the beach but also that the past five years of record-breaking numbers has shown it can be a success.
The speaker for the evening, Commissioner of Maine Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Judy Camuso, also spoke to the strength in partnership. “I think all of us here realize that we are stronger together and I believe that partnerships are the key to success in conservation. It certainly is when it comes to management of an endangered species.
“We partnered with Maine Audubon, we worked with towns, with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service, and with property owners to come up with a management plan where everyone had a voice, and we were able to give the plovers the protection that they needed, while providing the town, local businesses, and property owners the assurances that they would still be able to enjoy their beaches. And you know what? It worked.”
This season’s success is a result of the incredible work of biologists, landowners, volunteers, town employees, and beachgoers, and is a culmination of the efforts of the Plover Recovery Project over the past 41 years along with all our hard-working partners.