A day before the city reopened nearly 70 blocks of public beaches along the Rockaway peninsula for the Memorial Day weekend, the U.S. Postal Service and National Park Service hosted a special event at the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge in Broad Channel to honor the piping plover, an endangered shorebird featured on new stamps.
In attendance were members of the NYC Plover Project, a nonprofit with more than 250 volunteers, who have been on the beaches since March preparing for the summer swim season, who celebrated the newly released stamp sheet commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Endangered Species Act.
“The Endangered Species Act of 1973 is one of our nation’s most important environmental laws with more than 90% of Americans supporting protections for our most threatened and endangered wildlife,” NYC Plover Project Founder Chris Allieri said Friday. “Similarly, here in Queens, most New Yorkers strongly support the work we are doing together with National Park Service and NYC Parks to protect the one endangered species that nest each year in our city. It’s a point of pride, now showcased on this beautiful U.S. postage stamp, that this marvelous species visits our city each year to seek to raise their families. We must do more to protect them.”
In early spring, the tiny birds fly thousands of miles from the warm shores of the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean to the shores of New York Harbor. They make their summer homes on the beaches along the western and eastern ends of the Rockaway Peninsula, on both federal and NYC Parks beaches.
With less than 8,000 piping plovers left globally, the NYC Plover Project volunteers from Queens and Brooklyn help the tiny birds and their chicks survive by raising public awareness that the beaches of the Rockaways are ecosystems, they’re not just recreation areas.
“I am thrilled that a local Queens hero, the piping plover, is showcased on this stamp sheet,” U.S. Postal Service New York 2 District Manager Frank Calabrese said. “We hope the Endangered Species stamps tell the story of hard work, humanity, and hope while raising awareness about endangered animals and wildlife, and the efforts to protect them.”
Allieri began organizing the NYC Plover Project during the COVID-19 pandemic after seeing dogs running off-leash on the beaches where just under a hundred Piping Plovers were nesting.
“The piping plover is really special to me,” Allieri said. “We are so pleased to be doing this work with our federal and city partners. It is just the beginning, and this will really help the birds.”
For more information or to volunteer or donate to the NYC Plover Project, visit their website here.