NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Opinion

February 26, 2013

Plover deadline should be relaxed

We wonder what piping plovers would think if they had any clue of the vast amounts of bureaucracy, laws and handwringing that we humans have heaped upon their tiny heads.

Right now, plovers are at the center of a new conundrum that has hit Plum Island. On the one hand, our government has just allocated $5.5 million to complete the repairs to the battered Plum Island stone jetty. It’s a wise investment.

On the other hand, the government has also imposed a March 31 stop-work deadline on the jetty project. That deadline is driven by the government’s zeal to make sure that plovers aren’t deterred from building nests in the area where the jetty work is ongoing. It’s a foolish impediment.

In the coming weeks, local, state and federal officials will be discussing shifting or eliminating the plover deadline to accommodate the work on the jetty. This would only affect the area in the immediate vicinity of the jetty.

We hope that the powers that be will do what is logical — relax the plover deadline and allow the work to continue.

We’re not clear on why there was a deadline imposed in the first place, given the scope of work required to fix the jetties. Our government seems to have a penchant for setting self-destructive deadlines for itself — witness the ongoing “fiscal cliff” and “sequester” deadlines. Would it not be far better to focus on solving problems instead of fixating on artificial deadlines?

From a taxpayer standpoint, it makes good sense to get rid of the construction moratorium deadline. The heavy equipment needed to do the job is already onsite, and it has been estimated that it will cost many thousands of dollars to break down the site temporarily, and then set it up again when the plover moratorium ends in late August. We can’t think of a more wasteful expense than this.

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