The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's 2018 Biological Opinion identifies the following fundamental objective for the piping plover and least tern:
Avoid jeopardizing the continued existence of the piping plover and least tern due to USACE actions on the Missouri River.
The BiOP also has four sub-objectives and each has specific metrics and targets. If the targets for the sub-objectives are maintained, it will result in meeting the fundamental objective.
Sub-Objective 1 (Distribution): Maintain a geographic distribution of plovers in the river and reservoirs in which they currently occur in both the Northern and Southern Regions on the Missouri River.
Sub-Objective 2 (Population): Maintain a population of Missouri River piping plovers with a modeled 95% probability that at least 50 individuals will persist for at least 50 years in both the Northern and Southern Regions.
Sub-Objective 3 (Population Dynamics): Maintain a stable or increasing long-term trend in population size in both regions.
Sub-Objective 4 (Reproduction): Maintain fledgling production by breeding pairs sufficient to meet the population growth rate objectives within both the Northern and Southern Regions on the Missouri River.
Current management actions for the terns and plovers are listed below. See also the Science page for other management actions related to the terns and plovers.
A combination of herbicide application, controlled burning, and mechanical removal is used to maintain open sandbars that can be used for nesting and foraging.
Tern and Plover Habitat Construction
In years when habitat models indicate construction is needed, in-river sandbars can be mechanically constructed and maintained.
- Methods used for construction of sandbars vary by each project site location.
- Sandbar construction sites are selected through the National Environmental Policy Act process that involves feedback from multiple agencies, the Tribes, and the public. Multiple selection criteria are used to help with site selection. Two of the main selection criteria are areas where shallow submerged sandbar already exists and river width. Wide areas in the river and areas out of the main river flow (thalweg) are selected since there are lower velocities in these areas.
- The Tern and Plover Habitat program capitalizes on areas of natural deposition of sand by raising these shallow submerged sandbars to exposed elevations needed for nesting. Various combinations of dredging and equipment such as bulldozers and excavators are utilized to construct the sandbar to specified contours and elevations.
The construction season for tern and plover habitat is short as it is limited to the times of year when the least terns and piping plovers are not in the area and weather conditions allow. These species typically arrive in mid-April and leave in mid to late August.
For more information, please see the Emergent Sandbar Habitat (ESH) Creation Fact Sheet.