Northern Assateague Island Restoration Project and the Piping Plover: A Case Study in Endangered Species Act Inter-Agency Consultation

By: Anne Hecht and G. Andrew Moser


Between September 1995 and May 1997, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, National Park Service, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service engaged in informal and formal consultation regarding effects on the piping plover of a proposed project to artificially nourish beaches on the northern end of Assateague Island, Maryland. Key factors contributing to the success of this consultation included: (1) early and active participation in the consultation process by all federal parties, as well as the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Worcester County, and Ocean City, (2) availability of extensive high quality baseline information on piping plover habitat use in the project area, (3) explicit inclusion of plover conservation in the project objectives, (4) formulation of a biological assessment, containing detailed assessments of six project alternatives, early in the consultation process, (5) adoption of a relatively restrained project design, and (6) incorporation of a monitoring and response plan in the project design. This monitoring and response plan is intended to detect and correct any deleterious effects of the project on piping plover habitat due to lower-than-anticipated overwash frequency. The project, scheduled for construction over a two to three year period, may not be initiated until the autumn of 1999, and actual project impacts may not be determinable until several years after completion.


Anne Hecht is an endangered species biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Northeast Regional Office and team leader, U.S. Atlantic Coast Piping Plover Recovery Team. G. Andrew Moser is an endangered species biologist located in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Chesapeake Bay Field Office. Anne Hecht can be reached at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Weir Hill Road, Sudbury, Massachusetts 01776. G. Andrew Moser can be reached at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 177 Admiral Cochrane Drive, Annapolis, Maryland 21401.

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