DEC Releases Draft Black Skimmer Conservation Management Plan

Plan Will Guide Communities in Conservation Efforts of this Species of Special Concern

Print Email
Long Island City, NY - July 16, 2014 - The public can now review and comment on the draft Black Skimmer (Rynchops niger) Conservation Management Plan through September 2, 2014, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced today.
The black skimmer is a medium sized colonial beach-nesting waterbird species that is related to the terns. It arrives in the spring to nest along New York's ocean coast and migrates back to its wintering grounds in the Caribbean and Gulf Coast. It is of special conservation concern because of the limited distribution in New York and due to threats to its habitat. More information about the black skimmer can be found on DEC's website.
DEC drafted the management plan to help guide conservation actions to ensure the long term viability of this species in New York. "Wildlife management plans are extremely beneficial tools to help balance populations and environmental impacts," DEC Commissioner Joe Martens said. "This plan will guide the efforts of DEC's wildlife staff involved in black skimmer management and inform local municipalities, land owners, colony site managers, and the general public of our management recommendations."
The draft 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. 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. The overarching goal is to maintain a self-sustaining population that is secure in perpetuity. DEC is endeavoring to do this by maintaining an average of ten colonies and an average population of 550 breeding pairs over a typical 5-year period of time.
The plan lays out management, monitoring, research, and outreach tasks to help counteract many of the negative factors influencing skimmer breeding productivity in the state.
Management Actions:
  • Enhance existing habitat through proper beach maintenance such as raking, re-grading, and cleaning practices.
  • Restore historical nesting areas.
  • Place wrack (dead vegetation) in both natural & artificial ways.
  • Place sand and dredge spoil on beaches and salt marsh islands to counteract erosion and marsh island subsidence.
  • Maintain the integrity of vegetative communities along coastal beaches and salt marsh islands.
  • Attract skimmers to enhanced or restored areas by using visual and auditory methods.
  • 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 banding surveys to assess how black skimmer move throughout the NY/NJ Bight.
  • Examine contaminants and toxins in black skimmer food sources.
  • Understand the distribution and abundance of food sources.
  • 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 through local education efforts and distribution of black skimmer pamphlets.
  • Promote stewardship though volunteer activities such as beach cleanup events.
DEC will accept comments on the Black Skimmer Conservation Management Plan through September 2, 2014. The draft Conservation Management Plan can be found on DEC's website.
Comments and questions can be addressed to: Jason C. Smith, NYSDEC 4th Floor, 47-40 21st Street, Long Island City, NY 11415, or alternatively can be sent via email to Please enter "Black Skimmer" in the address line of email.