Friday, August 17 , 2018, 6:53 pm | Fair 74º

 
 
 
 

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Vandenberg Air Force Base’s Surf Beach Opens Early After Plover Nesting Ends

With nesting season apparently done, Vandenberg Air Force Base has announced the re-opening of Surf Beach just in time for a hot weekend.

The beach on base property is the closest publicly accessible shoreline for Lompoc Valley residents but also is deemed critical for Western snowy plover recovery.

“Vandenberg beaches are now open for recreational access,” Vandenberg officials announced Friday.

“Western snowy plover season has officially ended; all plovers chicks have fledged.”

The reopening is welcome news for Lompoc Valley residents who have asked several times in the recent weeks on social media sites about the status of the beach.

Only one-half mile of Surf Beach is open to people starting March 1, the opening of the small shorebird’s nesting season.

However, a limit of 50 violations was set more than a decade ago under an agreement between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Vandenberg to protect access to the beach and the bird’s population to expand.

Since Vandenberg beaches are on federally owned land the Endangered Species Act requires more stringent compliance than other local coastal areas. 

Western snowy plovers make their well-camouflaged nests in the sand, leaving the eggs and checks vulnerable to humans and natural predators.

Once the violations limit is reached — as it has been for the past few years — the beach must close for the remained of the season, which typically runs through Sept. 30. 

This year marked the earliest closure since rules were implemented with all people banned from the beach by early June due to violations.

Early reopenings have occurred previously at Vandenberg.

While Surf Beach is open again, Vandenberg officials reminded visitors that some rules remain during the “winter season” which runs from October through February.

For instance, all pets must be on a leash on all Vandenberg beaches.

Additionally, people are not allowed to camp or build campfires at base beaches. 

The re-opening comes as the Central Coast basks under unseasonably warm fall temperatures expected to be what the National Weather Service said would be “much above normal.”

Cooler temperatures are expected after the weekend but another warm up may occur late next week.

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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