After a 30-year absence, the plover, a tiny bird, returned to touristy Sauble Beach on the Ontario Peninsula. Now, the town’s residents are arguing over what the beach should be — and how both humans and these endangered birds can share the sand.

Pristine white sand is the preferred backdrop for sunbathing, picnics, sandcastles and snorkeling, while driftwood, uneven sand, plants, rocks and shells are best for nesting, feeding and survival. It all comes down to who the beach is meant for: humans, plovers — or maybe both?

Cheri Lucas Rowlands

Cheri has been an editor at Longreads since 2014. She's currently based in the San Francisco Bay Area.