2018-07-26 / Front Page

Amended ordinance protects plovers

By Abigail Worthing
Staff Writer

SACO – This fall, the Saco River will be dredged and the material will be used to replenish the shoreline at Camp Ellis in an effort to stave off the effects of the jetty.

As part of the agreement to allow sand replenishment to take place at Camp El- lis, the city had to agree to a Beach Management Agreement with the Federal Fish and Wildlife Service and the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.

The agreement was signed by City Administrator Kevin Sutherland on June 4.

The document includes protective measures for the nesting areas of two species of endangered birds, the piping plover and least tern. The birds nest on sand and their habitats can be disturbed by humans and animals alike.

The amended ordinances will put new restrictions on the presence of animals on the beach during the summer months to allow a safer nesting period for the endangered birds.

The first reading of the amendments was presented by Ward 4 Councilor Lynn Copeland during the July 23 council meeting, and presented for public comment during the Aug. 6 meeting. Changes to this ordinance, if approved, will take effect in the fall.

The previous ordinance under the city code article on dogs, restricted the presence of dogs during July and August to being prohibited unless leashed from the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. The new ordinance will read that all dogs must be leashed at all times from April 1 to Sept. 30 on any beaches where piping plovers and least terns nest.

The amended ordinance also restricts the presence of horses on the beach, changing the days during which horses are prohibited on public beaches from May 1 to Sept. 30 and extending to include April 1 through Sept. 30.

The amendment also removes the exception for the use of horses to clean the beach of seaweed and refuse.

The council recommended that the amendments are passed, as the sand replenishment at Camp Ellis is contingent on the changes.

“Camp Ellis can’t wait any more time for this sand, said Marsten Lovell, mayor of Saco. “If the Army Corps of Engineers decides not to place the sand this fall, who knows when they may come again?”

Lovell made the statement after the July 16 meeting where the amendments were discussed during a workshop session.

During Sutherland’s administrative update during the July 23 meeting, he confirmed all the property owners required had signed approval for the sand to be placed.

In the mid-19th century, when the Saco River became a federal navigable waterway, the Army Corps of Engineers completed a 1,280-meter-long jetty on the northern side of the mouth of the Saco River in Camp Ellis to prevent silt build up.

The jetty has caused erosion to the shore at Camp Ellis, which has caused the loss of dunes, a railroad, four streets and 38 homes.

The dredge will begin mid-November, and is anticipated to be completed in March. It is expected to yield 140,000 cubic yards of material, destined for the beach at Camp Ellis.

“I just want to remind everyone that the sand replenishment is not a permanent solution,” Sutherland said, addressing the council. “We need to continue to work on a jetty solution,”

Contact Staff Writer Abigail Worthing at news@inthecourier.com.

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