Limits for Western Snowy Plover protection began March 1
VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE — Seasonal restrictions for Surf, Wall and Minuteman beaches began Monday, March 1, as part of the annual program to protect the Western Snowy Plover and its nesting habitat.
Under the Endangered Species Act, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Biological Opinion requires the 30th Space Wing Commander to enforce restrictions on all three beaches annually, March 1 through Sept. 30, to protect the threatened Western Snowy Plover and its nesting habitat.
“During plover season, the general public can still access much of Surf Beach, but must be careful to avoid the designated restricted areas,” said Col. Anthony Mastalir, 30th Space Wing commander. “Our goal is to maximize beach access for the local community, while still adhering to environmental requirements and safety measures. If everyone does their part, I believe we can protect the snowy plover while we enjoy our beautiful coastline.”
The section of Surf Beach available for recreational access during the nesting season has not changed, but will remain open year-round.
“Violations will continue to be counted and staying out of posted restricted areas is critical to ensuring public beach access. Together we can protect Surf Beach for current and future generations in our local community,” said Samantha Kaisersatt, 30th Civil Engineer Squadron biological scientist. “A trail is available to walk between Surf Beach and Ocean Park behind the restricted nesting area for all to enjoy and plans are in place to construct a permanent boardwalk in the near future.”
Violation limits for Vandenberg’s beaches are imposed per the terms and conditions of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Biological Opinion for Beach Management. Entry into posted restricted beach areas counts as a violation and violators can be fined up to $5,000 in federal court. Violators of the Endangered Species Act (e.g. crushing eggs or chicks) can face fines up to $50,000 in federal court and imprisonment for up to one year.
“We protect the snowy plover by restricting specific areas of the beaches, managing predators, and restoring plover habitat to compensate for the effects of recreational beach use during the breeding season,” said Kaisersatt. “Beach restrictions also include the prohibition of dogs, horses and kites.”
To ensure continued access, the community is asked to take care of the beaches and abide by the requirements to maintain recreational access for everyone. Visitors are also asked to read and follow the rules on the posted signage to avoid violations and beach closure.
Open hours at Surf Beach are from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. Beach access at Wall and Minuteman is allowed from sunrise to sunset.