A proposed shorebird conservation restriction could hamper oversand vehicle (OSV) access on the Island and across the state.

While seeking state approval for OSV access on Norton Point Beach, the Edgartown parks department received an order of conditions from the National Heritage & Endangered Species Program, a division of Massachusetts Fisheries and Wildlife, prohibiting OSV trails within 150 feet of a piping plover nest.

Given the narrow and dynamic state of much of the Island’s shoreline, officials and residents are worried that the condition could effectively shut down OSV access if it becomes standard.

The restriction is new and not part of the 1993 Wetlands Protection Act that serves as a basis for the town’s beach management plan. In an update to the Edgartown select board on Tuesday, conservation agent Jane Varkonda said that the conservation and parks departments were working with the state to find an agreement.

In the meantime, conservation assistant Kara Shemeth said the team has found a workaround in the form of a blown-out area of overwash that meets the state’s conditions. Officials plan to relocate the OSV entrance to that area until a more permanent solution is found, she said.

“It’s going to be very dependent on day to day beach conditions, but we hope we can get folks out on the beach soon,” Ms. Shemeth said.

OSV permits for the property went on sale May 27, six months after the town of Edgartown first applied for control of the county-owned beach. Previously, The Trustees of Reservations had managed the property known as a popular recreational destination and critical shorebird habitat.

Martha’s Vineyard Beach Access Group (MVBAG) activist Peter Sliwkowski called the new restriction an “overreach” of state control.

“There’s been no due process, no public meetings, there’s never been any discussion on this particular requirement,” he said. “If it becomes de facto standard, it has the opportunity to shut down OSV access on every shorebird property in Massachusetts.”

Mr. Sliwkowki added that Norton Point Beach, at about three miles of shorefront, makes up 13 per cent of the Island’s publicly-accessible beaches. According to the Martha’s Vineyard Commission, of the 63 miles of Island coastal property, the public has access to just 16 miles.

Former Trustees Island superintendent Chris Kennedy also spoke out against the new restriction, saying it could have far-reaching implications for the rest of the Island.

“Thank goodness you had the blowout or else you would not be able to open,” he said. “I think we all need to be honest with each other that may not be the case in the future.”

Ms. Varkonda validated these concerns but said her main priority is getting Norton Point open as soon as possible.

“This is a thing that’s bigger than the town of Edgartown,” she said, adding that it should be addressed through proper statewide channels. “In the meantime, in good faith efforts we’re working closely with [the state agencies] to secure some sort of access...to keep our eyes on the prize and get some people on the beach.”