- Written by Maggie Kearney, Special to the Clipper
- Published: 19 June 2013
Duxbury Beach was purchased by a group of Duxbury residents in 1919. They named themselves the Duxbury Beach Association and ran the beach for decades. In 1975 the Duxbury Beach Association became the Duxbury Beach Reservation, Inc., a Massachusetts nonprofit corporation. The Reservation consists of 36 trustees at present, 10 of whom are directors. Not all of our trustees are Duxbury residents. We have no employees and none of us receives any compensation. The reason that the Reservation allows non- residents as well as residents access to the beach is because several times in our past we have fought efforts by the state to turn Duxbury Beach into a public beach.
The Reservation leases most of the beach to the town of Duxbury. We use the lease money to maintain the beach and this year to repair the beach after the February blizzard. We reimburse the town for the Endangered Species Officer, his assistant, the plover monitors, and all of their equipment. The town sells resident and nonresident parking permits and manages the people and vehicles.
The state, in carrying out the federal Endangered Species Act, can and does close most beaches to recreational vehicles during the piping plover season. The reason our beach has remained open until this year is that we monitor the birds very carefully. We are always under pressure to avoid any mishaps, or “takes,” which is the loss of an egg or hatched chick or adult plover due to human activity. The fines are enormous, and the beach could be closed if there were a “take.”
What happened this year is unusual. The February blizzard and March northeaster created extremely favorable habitat for the birds, and they nested all along the beach. This in itself is not terribly unusual, but in past years, spring storms and predators have wiped out nests and eggs. When a pair of plovers loses the eggs, they will re-nest up to four times. Thus the season usually extends well into August, and portions of the oversand areas have had to be closed off, which has con- tributed to overcrowding and tension among beach goers.
Back to this year: As each nest hatches, a 300-foot perimeter is set up around the chicks and moves with them until they fledge. Each protected zone runs from the ocean to the bay, so one cannot walk or drive through these overlapping plover zones to get to a free zone. The good news is that this year, most of the birds will fledge by mid-July, and several of the restricted areas will likely re-open before July 15.
I want people to understand that we have an excellent relationship with the town of Duxbury. Together, we work very hard to provide recreational access during the plover nesting season. It is not easy and patience is required. And while many are frustrated by the federal and state regulations that protect these birds, our own charter states that we exist for the protection of marine life, native and migratory birds, and indigenous vegetation. Equally important are our goals of maintaining Duxbury Beach as a barrier for protecting the shorelines of Duxbury and Kingston, and allowing public access.