NYC Plover Project has been recognized for its work to protect Rockaway’s piping plover population. At the 2023 Keesee Awards Luncheon at the Metropolitan Club in Manhattan on October 4, the National Audubon Society’s Connecticut and New York office honored NYC Plover Project as one of three organizations to receive the prestigious Thomas W. Keesee, Jr., Conservation Award
The Thomas W. Keesee, Jr., Conservation Award recognizes those who show remarkable leadership and commitment to protecting birds and the places they need. At this year’s event, three organizations were honored for their efforts to help increase the threatened population of Piping Plovers both locally and at a hemispheric level: Bahamas National Trust, Mass Audubon, and the NYC Plover Project.
“Audubon is proud to honor these conservation champions for coordinating action to reverse Piping Plover declines,” said Michael Burger, executive director of Audubon Connecticut and New York, in his opening remarks. “Through their efforts to engage beachgoers, school-aged youth, policymakers, state and federal agencies, and other environmental organizations, they are proactively building a road to recovery for Piping Plovers before they become federally endangered. Effective conservation of migratory species like Piping Plover requires a specialized approach to each phase of their annual life cycle, which is what these organizations are providing.”
The Piping Plover is a small shorebird that nests directly in the sand on beaches and offshore islands. Many of its North American nesting areas are subject to human disturbance or other threats, and it is now considered endangered or threatened in all parts of its range.
The NYC Plover Project is a group of New Yorkers working to fiercely protect endangered piping plovers and other shorebirds that nest on busiest public beaches of Queens, New York. Founded in March 2021, the 501c3 non-profit organization has grown to a staff of four with more than 250 volunteers who have performed some 10,000 hours of volunteer service connecting with residents and beachgoers on the beaches of Fort Tilden, Breezy Point Tip and Jacob Riis Park at Gateway National Recreation Area, and the NYC Parks & Recreation beaches of Far Rockaway and Rockaway Beach. The NYC Plover Project connects with many thousands of New Yorkers via social media, webinars and events where they distribute stickers, temporary tattoos, buttons and educational materials about the plight of the city’s endangered species. NYC Plover Project received the National Park Service’s George & Helen Hartzog national volunteer group of the year award in 2022 and is expanding a school-based program across the Rockaway Peninsula this fall and winter.
“We are honored to share the stage with Bahamas National Trust and Mass Audubon, and to be recognized for our shared commitment to fiercely protect Piping Plovers throughout their range,” Chris Allieri, founder and executive director, NYC Plover Project, said. “Threats ranging from rapidly narrowing beaches due to climate change, increased predation and human disturbance, all contribute to declines in plover nest productivity. In New York City, there is one federally-listed threatened or endangered species that nests here. It is incumbent upon all of us to do everything we can to protect them. We can and we must do more, and NYC Plover Project is here to help lead the charge.”
The 2023 Keesee Awards was co-hosted by Laurie Hodgson, Thomas W. Keesee III, Victoria Shaw, and Virginia Stowe.