HAMPTON – Two nests and seven eggs are putting fireworks on hold at Hampton Beach through at least mid-July due to a federal law protecting piping plovers.
The small birds normally nest each year in the southern end of the beach near Haverhill Street, roped off from the public in accordance with conservation law. Beach officials learned in the last week the plovers moved to areas north and south of the Seashell Stage this spring, leaving no room for fireworks, according to Hampton Beach Village District Commissioner Chuck Rage.
"You can’t go near them, you can’t drive near them. There’s just no way we can feasibly get (fireworks) in," Rage said. "That’s our dilemma."
The news comes as beach officials work to save Hampton’s summer tourist season by slowly reopening the beach and its attractions, having been closed this spring by the COVID-19 pandemic.
With no one allowed on the beach until June 1 per the governor’s order, Hampton Area Chamber of Commerce President John Nyhan said there was more room for the plovers to roam and pick their spot. He said four eggs were laid in a nest in front of the Ashworth by the Sea Hotel, close to where the fireworks are normally set up. Three others were laid on the beach across from L Street.
Rage said state and local fire officials examined the beach area before the decision was made to delay the show, normally held each Wednesday night and the Fourth of July. He said even if they took the fireworks setup to the northern part of the beach away from the plovers, the show would be threatened by high tides that consistently cover the beach and disturb a largely residential section there.
Nyhan said federal law requires the nests be sectioned off until they have hatched, and that the sections cannot be reopened until the birds grow enough to abandon the nest. He said experts say that could take 20 to 30 days.
Rage is optimistic the birds could get tired of their new section now that beachgoers are back and leave.
"I don’t know, they might not stay there," he said. "There’s a lot of people around. They might not like that."