The recent announcement
that the US Department of Fish and Wildlife was setting aside more shoreline, specifically at Dillon and Limantour Beaches, as Snowy Plover habitat fueled speculation that dog access at these popular destinations was now prohibited. So we went to sniff out the truth.
We're pleased to report that, alarmist rhetoric notwithstanding, it just ain't so.
Carl Vogler of Lawson's Landing Resort
at Dillon Beach fills us in. "We already have a plover protection program in place here and have had it for the last couple of years. There is a symbolically fenced (rope and posts) area near Sand Point in which the plovers congregate. We ask that everyone walking the beach stay on the damp sand (and therefore away from the birds) and that dogs be leashed when passing by the plover zone. It encompasses less than 10% of the beach area.
"We have been working with the Fish and Wildlife Service to be able to keep the beach open to both the plover and to the public and we think that this method works for both," he adds. "As long as people and their pets continue to act responsibly we should all be able to use the beach."
As for Limantour
, despite the National Park Service's best attempt to roll out the not-welcome mat at Point Reyes National Seashore
("Dogs and other pets are wonderful animals that give comfort and companionship. However, a national park is not the best place for them. Dogs chase, scare and can transmit diseases to wild animals such as nesting birds or marine mammals. Dogs leave behind a 'predator' scent typical of all wild canines like wolves and coyotes. This scent can linger in the area for long periods of time and can disrupt or alter the behavior of the native animals this park has been set aside to protect," they patronize
), it grudgingly admits that leashed dogs are still allowed on portions of Limantour, Kehoe, and Point Reyes/Great Beaches.
On the whole we prefer the attitude at Lawson's, where, says Vogler, they can always use a few volunteers to talk to people and explain the situation so everybody behaves responsibly and respects the boundaries. "If you or anyone you know is interested, we need folks that don't mind spending a few hours on the beach talking to people," he says. DogTrekkers interested in helping out can email firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo: Snowy Plover—Mike Baird, Creative Commons