VANDENBERG SPACE FORCE BASE, Calif. —
Seasonal restrictions will be in place for Surf Beach and Ocean Park beginning Wednesday, 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 Space Launch Delta 30 commander to enforce restrictions on all Vandenberg beaches annually, March 1 through Sept. 30, to protect the federally-listed, threatened Western Snowy Plover and its nesting habitat (https://ecos.fws.gov/ecp/species/8035).
“During plover season, the general public can still access ½ mile of Surf Beach, but must be careful to avoid the designated restricted areas,” said Lt. Col. Nicholas Van Elsacker, commander of the 30th Civil Engineer Squadron. “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.”
Violation tracking is required on Vandenberg’s beaches per the terms and conditions of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Biological Opinion. 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.
“Violations will be counted; however Vandenberg is committed to keeping sections of Surf Beach open to allow the public to enjoy,” said Rhys Evans, 30th Civil Engineer Squadron biological scientist. “A trail is available for all to enjoy between Surf Beach and Ocean Park behind the restricted nesting area. Leashed dogs can be taken on that trail, but they are not allowed within the open section of Surf Beach during the plover nesting season.”
Beach rules during the plover nesting season include the prohibition of dogs, horses and kite flying. Read and follow the rules on the posted signs to avoid violations and beach closure.
Open hours at Surf Beach are from sunrise to sunset daily with beach access via Surf Beach Station. Santa Barbara County’s Ocean Park is open during those same hours, and visitors are again welcome to take the trail behind the closed area to access Surf Station. There is no access to the beach or to the mouth of the Santa Ynez River via Ocean Park.
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