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Part of Headlands Dunes State Nature Preserve closing to encourage nesting of endangered piping plovers

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Posted at 11:34 AM, Sep 30, 2021

LAKE COUNTY, Ohio — Efforts are underway to encourage future nesting of the federally endangered piping plover, a small migratory shorebird, who makes its home on the sandy beaches of Lake Erie’s Headlands Dunes State Nature Preserve.

Beginning Nov. 1, a part of Headlands Dunes State Nature Preserve will be closed to the public to protect the various plant and animal species that call this diverse shoreline home.

The variety of plants help provide optimal nesting for the piping plovers. The decision to close a portion of the beach comes with the hope that this helps future generations have the possibility to see these birds.

“The steps we’re taking now to preserve this critical habitat will hopefully ensure plovers have adequate nesting sites for years to come,” ODNR Director Mary Mertz said. “We hope even more people will be able to see these endangered birds in the future.”

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The Piping Plovers at Maumee Bay State Park.

Birders, visitors and conservationists were excited after the recent sighting of a piping plover nest at Maumee Bay State Park.

Because piping plovers prefer nesting areas on frequently visited beaches, Ohio has not recorded a piping plover nesting in more than 80 years. Officials typically intervene for successful nesting to occur.

Wildlife officials hope Lake County becomes the next spot these small migratory birds make their home in. Because migrating plovers are spotted at Headlands Dunes each spring, ornithologists believe they would nest if given the opportunity.

”Headlands Dunes State Nature Preserve protects perhaps the most pristine natural beachfront on the Ohio shores of Lake Erie,” author of Birds of Ohio Jim McCormac said in a news release. “Increased protection of a small expanse of Headlands' beach as piping plover nesting habitat may entice this charismatic endangered species to breed in Lake County for the first time in nearly a century.”

State officials will restrict access along approximately 900 feet of beach at the far eastern end of the preserve. Nearly one mile of beach to the west of that area will remain open for recreation. View the full map here.

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All visitors are asked to help wildlife officials by staying on designated trails and observe closure signs.

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