BAY SHORE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Proponents for a Fire Island dune project at the center of a conservationist group’s lawsuit are celebrating after a judge denied a request to halt the project over an endangered bird.

U.S. District Judge Sandra Feuerstein denied the request from Audubon New York on Friday, Newsday reported.

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The Audubon’s lawsuit claims the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ $207 million dune-replenishment project would harm piping plovers by destroying their habitat.

The small, sparrow-like bird that lives on the island is listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act and, elsewhere in the country, is classified as endangered.

Elected officials have decried the project’s delay, saying human lives are in danger if a repeat of 2012’s Superstorm Sandy strikes the region and work is not completed to bulk up Fire Island as a barrier for heavily populated parts of Long Island.

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U.S. Rep. Tim Bishop praised the judge’s decision as “a great victory.”

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