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Surf Beach Closed to Protect Threatened Shore Bird

Surf Beach west of Lompoc has been closed down as a result of too many access violations during the breeding season of the threatened western snowy plover, Vandenberg Air Force Base officials announced Tuesday.

“The closure is intended to refocus attention on the rules, emphasize that they are not optional, and that violations carry real consequences for not only violators, but also impacts those who follow the rules,” according to a statement issued by the 30th Space Wing at the base.

Portions of Vandenberg’s beaches, including Wall, Surf and Minuteman, close March 1 through Sept. 30 every year to aid in the recovery of the western snowy plover, a shorebird listed as threatened by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

“Vandenberg has been entrusted with the protection of this threatened species,” said Col. Nina Armagno, 30th Space Wing commander. “Just like with our launch mission, safety is our number one priority.

“We must ensure that the western snowy plover has a safe habitat and that means that our beachgoers have to respect the rules and behave as good environmental ambassadors in order to keep our beaches open for recreational activities.”

Just like the current situation at Surf Beach, if any of Vandenberg’s beaches reaches its limit of violations, all sections of the beach will be off-limits to the public until Sept. 30. The maximum beach access violations are 10 for Minuteman Beach, 10 for Wall Beach and 50 for Surf Beach.

Failure to comply with restrictions is a violation of federal law, and may result in fines and penalties. Fines can reach up to $50,000 and penalties can amount to more than one year in jail.

Docents and beach patrol will continue monitoring the area.

For more information about Surf Beach’s closure or to report violators on any of Vandenberg’s beaches, call the conservation office at 805.606.6804, or the law enforcement desk at 805.606.3911.

For more information about the western snowy plover, call the 30th Civil Engineer Squadron Natural Resources Office at 605-0392.

Noozhawk executive editor Tom Bolton can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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