Scarborough works closely with partners from the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, and Maine Audubon to protect the plovers on our beaches. Each year, volunteers from Scarborough and beyond are trained as beach monitors and visit our beaches to educate beach goers about the birds and our ordinances. Learn more about volunteering below.
Piping plovers are small, sandy-colored birds that nest in front of sand dunes on the upper beach. They are vulnerable to natural predators, roaming pets, storms, and human activity. Historically, Maine has had more than 30 miles of nesting beaches that may have been home to more than 200 pairs of piping plovers. Today, because of development around Maine’s beaches, piping plovers' habitat has been reduced by 75%.
Thanks to monitoring and protection efforts by state and federal agencies, local organizations, and towns, piping plover populations are starting to improve. In 2022, there were 141 pairs in the state, from Ogunquit to Georgetown.
How to Help Protect Endangered Piping Plovers
How To Help
- Keep your dog leashed on the beach during nesting season and be aware of Restricted Areas, staked and twined nesting areas, and leash laws.
- Keep away from staked and twined nesting areas. Dog owners must keep their dogs 200 feet away from fencing to avoid disturbing nesting birds and chicks.
- Kite flying, kite surfing, and parasailing are not allowed within 650 feet of a nesting adult or juvenile piping plover.
- Setting off fireworks is not allowed on any Town beach.
- Carry out all trash brought onto the beach - help keep Scarborough’s beaches, parking lots, and roads clean.
- Homeowners and renters with cats should keep their pets indoors or add a bell the cat’s collar during nesting season (April - October).
Each summer, volunteers visit our beaches to educate beachgoers about the birds and to keep an eye on their nests. If you’re interested in helping the Town with our protection efforts, sign up to volunteer as a Beach Monitor!
Spend a couple hours each week walking our beaches, talking with visitors, and monitoring plover nesting areas. We're looking for a regular, weekly commitment, but we also know summer in Maine is precious. You can still volunteer even if you know you will only be able to help periodically or if there are weeks when you are unavailable. All volunteers must:
- Be willing to talk and interact with the public
- Attend an annual volunteer training and orientation
- Educate beachgoers about plovers and beach rules meant to keep the birds safe
- Track volunteer time and complete written observation forms
Fill out our volunteer form to be a Beach Monitor.
If you have any questions about becoming a Volunteer Beach Monitor, please contact Jami Fitch, Sustainability Coordinator, at email@example.com or 207.730.4035.
Information for Dog Owners
Signs are posted at beach access points and on the beach to help beach goers understand when and where dogs are allowed. Examples of the signs can be seen to the right, and general guidelines are provided below.
April 1st - Labor Day:
Look for posted signs on beach indicating Restricted Areas for dogs with separate time restrictions.
All of Scarborough’s public beaches have areas where dog access is restricted.
Higgins & Ferry/Western Beaches:
Dogs are not allowed in the Restricted Area.
Dogs are allowed on leash in the Restricted Area from dawn - 9AM and from 5PM - dusk.
May 15 - Labor Day:
- Dawn - 9AM: Voice & Sight Control
- 9AM - 5PM: Prohibited on Beaches
- 5PM - Dusk: Allowed on Leash
- Dusk - Dawn: Prohibited
After Labor Day - May 14th:
- 1PM - 3PM: On leash
Allowed off leash at all other times