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Grant to give snowy plovers an info booth on the beach

The Morro Coast Audubon Society has received a $25,000 outreach grant that will allow it to operate a snowy plover information booth at Morro Strand State Beach this summer.

The booth is expected to open Memorial Day weekend on the beach next to the Morro Strand campground. Volunteers will hand out information about the tiny shorebirds and what the public can do to help protect them, including a “dog on leash” map that tells dog owners how to avoid disturbing plovers.

The booth will also have a spotting scope that people can use to watch nesting plovers or other wildlife on the beach, said Stephanie Little, the group’s education chairwoman.

“We usually have a handful of nests active in the campground area,” she said.

The booth will normally be open Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., depending on the availability of volunteers. To be safe, the public is encouraged to visit the booth about noon, Little said.

The grant was awarded by Sempra Energy Foundation’s Environmental Champions Award Initiative, which recently gave $1 million in grants to 30 nonprofit groups with natural resource conservation programs.

Snowy plovers are small birds that nest among the sand dunes at the beach and forage for insects near the surf line. They are listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act due to habitat destruction and vulnerability to disturbance by humans.

Reach David Sneed at 781-7930.

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