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CHARLESTOWN - The East Beach/Ninigret Conservation Area Sand Trail will reopen to vehicle traffic beginning at 9 a.m. Friday, July 26, the Department of Environmental Management announced.
The reopening of the trail will provide access to the campground and back track trail.
The sand trail was restricted to pedestrian traffic only since July 1 in order to provide protection for endangered piping plover chicks, which have been feeding and taking refuge along the sand trail. The piping plover is a small shorebird that is listed as threatened on both federal and state endangered species lists.
Hurricane Sandy changed the face of the Rhode Island coastline and beaches for the public as well as for piping plovers. On East Beach there are many over-wash areas that provide access for young birds such as the piping plover chicks.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) staff and volunteers have been monitoring the plover nests and broods on a daily basis. Now that the young piping plover chicks are able to fly, the sand trail is being reopened and the protective roping is being removed.
Throughout this summer and into the fall DEM, USFWS and the Coastal Resources Management Council will work together to plan restoration of these dunes in order to restore vegetation between the beach and the sand trail. Restoration of the dunes is expected to reduce the likelihood of plovers utilizing the sand trail.