The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to double the amount of West Coast beaches protected for a threatened shorebird in anticipation that sea levels will be rising due to global warming.
The proposal announced Monday would expand critical habitat designations for the western snowy plover in California, Oregon and Washington to a total of 68 units covering more than 28,000 acres.
Biologists estimate the snowy plover numbers no more than 2,270 individuals. Its numbers have declined as the bare sandy dunes where it lays its eggs were developed and covered with European beach grass, which makes the nests more vulnerable to predators.
The proposal also calls for expanding protected beaches to give the birds room to move into new nesting areas.