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Surf Beach Violations Creeping Toward Beach Closure Limit, Vandenberg AFB Says

Violations are at halfway mark after just one month of restricted beach access for western snowy plover nesting season

Beaches near Vandenberg Air Force Base have restricted access during western snowy plover nesting season and there have been 26 violations within the first month. If it hits 50, the beaches will be completely closed to visitors through September.
Beaches near Vandenberg Air Force Base have restricted access during western snowy plover nesting season and there have been 26 violations within the first month. If it hits 50, the beaches will be completely closed to visitors through September.  (Janene Scully / Noozhawk file photo)

One month into the western snowy plover nesting season, the number of violations at Surf Beach topped the halfway mark until the coastal access must be closed through September.

Vandenberg Air Force Base officials said Friday afternoon that beach visitors have already racked up 26 violations.

Only 50 violations are allowed at Surf Beach before it would have to be closed under the agreement between the Air Force and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service allowing people access while protecting the plovers.

The small shorebird is listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act and makes well-camouflaged nests in the sand where the small eggs and chicks are vulnerable.

Vandenberg officials said that once 30 violations are reached, they plan to temporarily close the beach until Memorial Day weekend.

“By closing Surf Beach at 30 violations now, we hope to allow the community the chance to enjoy the beach during the summer months,” said Col. Chris Moss, 30th Space Wing commander. 

“We know how important beach access is to the base and the community, so I ask all of our community members to follow the guidelines, stay out of the areas that are designated for plover nesting and keep the violations down so the beach can remain open.” 

Beach restrictions are enforced yearly on Wall, Minuteman and Surf beaches March 1 through Sept. 30, to coincide with the snowy plover’s nesting season. 

If a pre-determined number of violations are detected, the beaches must close for the remainder of the nesting season to protect the nests of the federally-protect bird.

To give the birds a chance to nest in peace, one-half mile of Surf Beach is only between March 1 and Sept. 30.

Small segments of Minuteman and Wall beaches also are open, with limits of 10 each since those fall within Vandenberg gates and are restricted to people with access to the base.

As of Thursday, Minuteman Beach visitors were responsible for two violations, while Wall had none.

Seasonal restrictions are not new, having been implemented at the beach for approximately 15 years.

Initially, the beach remained opened most of the season, but more recently has closed earlier and earlier as the violations limit has been reached.

In 2015, Surf Beach closed in early June.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully 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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