DEC Contact: Lori Severino 518-402-8000

May 12, 2015

DEC Releases Final Black Skimmer Conservation Management Plan

Plan Details Actions to Maintain Self-Sustaining Population to Protect the Species in New York State

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) today issued the final Black Skimmer Conservation Management Plan that outlines actions to maintain a self-sustaining population for this New York State species of special concern. The black skimmer is a migratory colonial bird species that arrives in the spring to nest along New York’s coast throughout the summer and fall. This plan will guide DEC’s efforts in black skimmer (Rynchops niger) management while providing municipalities, land owners, colony site managers and the general public with recommendations on how to sustainably manage the birds.

“The Black Skimmer Conservation Management Plan provides a common-sense approach that aims to find a balance between the ecological needs of the black skimmer and the societal needs of New York’s residents and visitors,” said DEC Commissioner Joe Martens.

The plan describes black skimmer natural history, identifies the threats that influence successful breeding and proposes appropriate management actions to ensure a sustainable population for generations to come. This can be ensured by maintaining a five-year annual mean minimum number of 10 colonies and a five-year annual mean minimum population of 550 breeding pairs.

Management, monitoring, research and outreach tasks are provided to help counteract many of the negative factors influencing skimmer breeding productivity in the state.

Management Actions:

·       Enhance existing habitat;

·       Restore historical nesting areas;

·       Place wrack (dead vegetation) in both natural and artificial ways;

·       Place sand and dredge spoil to counteract beach erosion and marsh island subsidence;

·       Maintain the integrity of vegetative communities along coastal beaches and salt marsh islands;

·       Employ visual and auditory methods to attract skimmers to enhanced or restored areas; and 

·       Provide best management practices for local managers to implement on a site specific basis.

Monitoring Actions:

·       Establish more accurate survey methods using remote sensing technology.

Research Actions:

·       Conduct a banding survey to assess how skimmer move throughout the NY/NJ Bight;

·       Examine contaminants and toxins in skimmer forage species;

·       Understand the distribution and abundance of forage species; and

·       Establish a pilot project to assess the viability of creating rooftop habitat. 

Outreach Actions:

·       Inform both residents and visitors how their actions can aid managers; and

·       Promote stewardship though volunteer activities.

DEC accepted comments on the Draft Black Skimmer Conservation Management Plan from July 16 through September 2, 2014. A downloadable version of the plan can be found on DEC’s website at:


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