A 25-year summer concert tradition at the Sandy Hook beach is suspended for the summer due because a federally protected bird species that seems to love the Jersey Shore has set up nests near the concert area.

The discovery of a piping plover nest near Sandy Hook's Beach E, the site of the concerts at the Gateway National Recreation Area, prompted the cancellation this year.

The Sandy Hook Foundation presents the free concerts on most Wednesday nights and featured local and regional bands performing. The first concert had been scheduled for June 19.

All along the Atlantic coast there are fewer than 3,000 nesting pairs of plovers but they thrive in New Jersey.

"Plovers are a threatened and endangered species. The Park Service is legally mandated to protect the plover nest.  According to Fish and Wildlife, no activity including concerts can be within 1,000 meters of the nest," NPS spokeswoman Daphne Yun told New Jersey 101.5.

New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection
New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection

"Sandy Hook has a pretty vibrant and thriving plover nesting population. We've had about 40 to 50% of the total New Jersey plover population in the past 10 years," Yun said.

Of the 145 chicks that fledged in New Jersey  in 2018, 59 were from Sandy Hook nests.

It also doesn't help that plovers don't like loud noises.

"Noise scares the birds so much they can’t focus on what they flew here to do: live on Sandy Hook for a couple of months, then move on," the Foundation said in a statement.

Yun said the Foundation and Park Service tried to come up with an alternative site for the concerts that would include a view of the ocean that Yun called one of the main attractions.

The Gateway National Recreation Area is a 27,000-acre national park that goes from Sandy Hook to Jamaica Bay and Staten Island. It is the 4th most visited NPS facility with more than 9.2 million annual visitors.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

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