Access violations over the weekend have once again forced the closure of Surf Beach west of Lompoc, this time beginning Thursday through the end of September, Vandenberg Air Force Base officials announced Monday.
The closure comes after the beach was reopened to public use May 1 after nearly a month-long closure due to a spike in access violations during the western snowy plover breeding season.
An additional 10 violations over the weekend put the total for this season at 55, topping the 50 benchmark that requires closure of the beach to protect the nests, officials said.
The closure will be imposed beginning Thursday under an agreement between the Air Force and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
Only limited segments of Surf, Wall and Minuteman base beaches are open from March 1 through Sept. 30 so the small shorebird can nest.
Surf Beach was first closed April 10 when 37 violations were already recorded this season, according to officials with the 30th Space Wing at Vandenberg.
“We know how important beach access is to the base and the community,” said Col. Keith Balts, 30th Space Wing commander. “But as the land manager here, I have a responsibility to uphold our obligations under the Endangered Species Act. Closing Surf Beach is necessary to ensure the proliferation of this threatened species during its most vulnerable moments.”
Violators of beach restrictions 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 of up to $50,000 in federal court and imprisonment for up to one year.