We calculated expenditures and hours of staff and volunteer time dedicated to monitoring and managing the United States breeding population of Atlantic Coast piping plovers (Charadrius melodus) in 1993 and 2002 and considered implications for recovery of this management-dependent species. In 2002, 73 federal, state, and local governmental agencies and private organizations played key roles in conservation efforts at 281 piping plover breeding sites. Total inflation-adjusted estimated expenditures increased by 51% between 1993 and 2002, from US$2.28 million to $3.44 million, but annual per-pair expenditures declined 4% from $2,459 to $2,350, and hours of paid-staff effort were similar (93 hr/pair in 1993, 95 hr in 2002). Expenditures for on-site monitoring and management were greater than for 6 other categories of expenses in both years and increased from 42% to 59% of total costs between 1993 and 2002. Staff time and expenditures were higher at sites where more labor-intensive efforts to protect plovers from recreation and other human use were necessitated by greater human accessibility. Total expenditures in 2002 were modest compared to those for some other threatened and endangered species and to costs of large beach-stabilization projects. Our results provide a baseline for estimating future costs of piping plover protection, including development and implementation of the long-term management agreements that will be required to remove this species from United States Endangered Species Act protection. Impediments to reducing costs for Atlantic Coast piping plovers are the species' widespread distribution at low densities and the unrelenting threats posed by human activities and predators. Modest economies of scale may be achieved through arrangements for management and monitoring that span multiple landowners and include other at-risk beach species.
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Vol. 73 • No. 7