Last week, I learned about two crucial topics important to comprehend the pathways western snowy plover (Charadrius nivosus nivosus) conservation programs follow, in order to protect the breeding habitats of this species. The first topic is about “the ABC’s of government land use initiatives”, personally I learned how different types of areas (USFW, USDA, BLM, private and general public use land) are managed, how laws and bills towards land protection are formulated, and who influences these processes.
Working here has given me a better view of Siuslaw National Forest ecosystems, especially the Oregon Dunes and how they were formed. The dunes are the result of thousands of years of lava and pyroclastic material deposits coming through the Umpqua River after Mt. Mazama erupted. Mt Mazama was a stratovolcano that collapsed and formed the famous caldera that holds Crater Lake. The Oregon Dune National Recreation Area (ODNRA) is part of Siuslaw National Forest and holds diverse habitats and species. The habitats at the dunes can be divided into ocean beach, foredunes, deflation plains, tree islands and short pine forest.
I believe that these topics are essential to the progress of conservation programs. Exhaustive research of the ecology of the dunes and appropriate support from governmental and non-governmental entities has allowed the population of breeding western snowy plovers to increase, from less than 150 in the 90’s to 518 individuals in 2016. This is the highest estimated record since monitoring began in 1990. However, the rate of nesting failures due to direct (i.e., motorized vehicles on beaches) and indirect (i.e., invasive species, corvid depredation, etc) human disturbances has increased, suggesting a review of the conservation consciousness of users.