Crescent Beach State Park on Maine’s Cape Elizabeth is home to the state’s largest concentration of endangered cottontail rabbits. It also provides habitat for numerous nests of endangered piping plovers. Now, lack of funding is putting both of these species in danger.
George Smith recently commented in the Waterville, ME Morning Sentinel about a 100-acre parcel of land that a local family has been leasing to the state, which encompasses the majority of the 187-acre beachfront park. Although the Sprague family has been charging a very low lease fee, the Bureau of Parks and Lands did not have sufficient funding to extend the lease when it expired two years ago.
Here are highlights of the article:
This alarm was expressed to me most clearly by Rauni Kew, marketing director for Cape Elizabeth’s Inn by the Sea that is adjacent to the park and just behind the beach. The Inn has spent a ton of money turning two acres of parkland into suitable habitat for the endangered cottontail rabbit, something Kew proudly calls her “rabitat.”
The cottontail, once prolific from southeastern New York to southern Maine, has lost 86 percent of its habitat since the 1960s, according to the Wildlife Management Institute.
Crescent Beach State Park has more cottontails than any other place in Maine.
Crescent Beach also is designated as essential habitat for endangered piping plovers. They’re in worse shape than the rabbits.
In order to stop harassment of plovers by people and their pets, game wardens got a Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund grant so they could spend time enforcing the laws that protect plovers.
You may have read recently about a case in which the wardens encountered a group that was camping beside the plovers and had destroyed their nests and even stolen DIF&W’s camera at that site.
Unfortunately, the grant money has been spent and that special enforcement detail will end if DIF&W can’t win another grant.
The new park road would travel right through the habitat, piping plovers to the left, cottontail rabbits to the right. That’s unimaginable and unacceptable.
To see more details about the funding dilemma facing Will Harris, Maine’s director of the Bureau of Parks and Lands, please follow this link.
Here is a link to another article for more information on endangered cottontail rabbits.
Eastern cottontail photo by Lew Gorman