Snowy plovers at Oceano Dunes

Jeff Miller

A belated post about snowy plovers at Oceano Dunes since the late-March COVID shutdown of the beach and dunes to vehicles.


Since mid-May I’ve been regularly documenting expanded use of beach and foredune areas by adult and juvenile plovers since the beach closure, mostly between markers 4 and 6. On June 7, I documented 15 adult and 12 fledgling snowy plovers between markers 4 and 6, outside of all fenced protective areas.


The California Coastal Commission yesterday sent a cease-and-desist enforcement letter to the California Department of Parks and Recreation for interfering with the nesting of snowy plovers at Oceano Dunes.


It was based on a pattern of violations that the Center for Biological Diversity documented and publicized last week in this press release: California Officials Interfering With Protected Shorebirds’ Nesting at Oceano Dunes. The Center sent a warning notice to State Parks of intent to sue for violations of the Endangered Species Act.


State Parks has been taking illegal actions to deter plover nesting and use in areas normally open to cars and off-road vehicles, This included scuffing out plover nest starts (“scrapes”), installing mylar flagging to scare off plovers, flushing juvenile plovers into fenced areas, and running heavy grading equipment (without permits or any plausible purpose) near plover nesting sites.


State Parks has apparently now ceased these activities (except for the grading), but there is still concern about what will happen to nesting and fledgling plovers when the park reopens to vehicles.


The Los Angeles Times ran an article today: Battle between off-roaders and rare bird heats up at Oceano Dunes state park

The New Times ran this article last week: Snowy plovers are nesting in Oceano Dunes riding areas amid COVID-19 closures, leading to concerns about reopening


Jeff Miller

Los Osos



Reprehensible and illegal harassment. Let’s hope the reporting and the CCC letter puts a stop to this and expands the protected area.