A piping plover guards its nest outside an "exclosure" on...

A piping plover guards its nest outside an "exclosure" on the outer beach at Smith Point Park in June 2013. Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

Audubon New York on Friday said it will not appeal a court ruling rejecting its bid to partly block a federal dune project for Fire Island because the group said it further endangered piping plovers.

Erin Crotty, executive director, said the conservation group was "very disappointed" that the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York last week rejected its request for a preliminary injunction. Piping plovers are protected by both the state and federal government.

"While we remain steadfast in our science-based concerns about the project's impacts on critical piping plover habitat and the species, we will not be appealing the decision to the Second Circuit," Crotty said in a statement.

"Audubon calls on elected officials and government agencies to ensure the mitigation proposed to offset critical habitat and piping plover loss is funded, carried out, and successful," she added.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which plans to build 19 miles of dunes on the 31-mile-long barrier island, earlier this week awarded a $48 million contract for the project's first phase at Smith Point County Park to California-based Dutra Group.

That stretch and a second phase along the Fire Island Lighthouse tract should be built this winter, officials said. Starting the third and final phase -- building the dunes in front of 17 communities -- requires Suffolk to displace about 41 homeowners targeted for federal buyouts and obtain hundreds of easements.

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