Federal wildlife officials will continue to allow sand dredged from the Scarborough River to be pumped onto Western Beach when the $1.7 million dredging project resumes this fall, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service announced Wednesday.

At issue are recent Scarborough ordinance changes that may not wholly satisfy wildlife officials as the town attempts to protect shorebirds after an unleashed dog killed a piping plover chick last July on Pine Point Beach.

The dredging and beach-replenishing projects have been in limbo since a contractor hired by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers failed to complete the dredging project before March 31, when nesting season starts for federally protected shorebirds.

Wildlife officials have decided that the beach-replenishing plan can continue in the fall because the new ordinance adequately protects birds that may nest on Western Beach, said Meagan Racey, spokeswoman for the wildlife service. The new ordinance bans dogs on Western Beach and the southern end of Ferry Beach during nesting season.

However, Racey said, wildlife officials continue to evaluate the “overall adequacy” of the new ordinance, which also provides a new beach monitoring coordinator, town staff training, volunteer monitoring, plover chick protection programs and various public awareness efforts.

Racey said the service will conclude its evaluation in a few weeks.

Racey noted the recent success of efforts to protect threatened plovers on 19 Maine beaches, citing a doubling in the number of nesting pairs, from 24 several years ago to 50 this year. But the numbers are still short of the 66 nesting pairs counted in 2002, she said.

The dredging contractor – North America Landscaping, Construction & Dredge Co. of Ellicott City, Maryland – removed only 16,000 of 115,000 cubic yards of sand that it was hired to clear from the river’s navigational channel by March 31, according to the Army Corps.

As a result, the sand-clogged channel remains largely impassable at low tide, making life difficult and often dangerous for about 35 commercial fishermen and 185 recreational boaters who call the river home, and more than 100 transient boaters who visit the harbor on busy summer weekends.

The Army Corps plans to resume dredging in November, at the conclusion of the shorebird protection season.

Town officials say they’ve been assured that it will be a different contractor.

Wildlife officials have warned the Army Corps that dredged material pumped onto Western Beach earlier this year was dark and coarse and didn’t match the existing beach, according to a letter sent Wednesday from one agency to the other. Army corps officials have promised that the remaining dredged material will match.

On May 7, the Town Council approved a variety of beach- and dog-related ordinance changes intended to increase shorebird protections and raise public awareness. The controversial changes were drafted to avoid a $12,000 federal fine for the plover-killing incident.

Under new canine-control regulations, from April 1 through Labor Day, dogs are either banned or must be leashed in restricted areas of Higgins, Ferry, Western and Pine Point beaches where piping plovers are known to be nesting.

From May 15 through Labor Day, dogs are banned on all beaches from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and from dusk to dawn. During this period, dogs can be in non-restricted areas unleashed but under voice and sight control from dawn to 9 a.m., and leashed from 5 p.m. to dusk. From the day after Labor Day through May 14, dogs must be leashed on beaches from 1 to 3 p.m.