A substantial proportion of U.S. federally listed species inhabit a small fraction of the nation's land mass, the coastal zone. Historically, management in this region has been conflict-ridden among diverse parties interested in natural resource extraction, land use, and conservation. This tension persists today, albeit in a more contemporary form: public access demand versus ecosystem conservation. The focus of this study is the influence of this tension on local-level management of federally threatened and endangered species. We surveyed managers of 43 locations of ecological importance for a threatened shorebird, the Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus). Reflecting the federal mandate to accommodate both public access and ecosystem conservation, we detected a shift in mission from sole-purpose initiatives (e.g., public access or ecosystem conservation) to a multiple-use mission (i.e., resource-based recreation). Public access and ecosystem conservation were the primary management goals at surveyed sites, 97 and 93%, respectively. Accessible public recreation is common at most locations; however, active management for listed species is rare. Ultimately, local land managers are accountable for managing coastal sites for dual use, thus the tension; however, coastal management activities have yet to resolve the conflict between concurrent management of public access and ecological requirements of listed species.
- Multiple-use management
- Piping Plover
- Public access
- Threatened and endangered species