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Vandenberg closes sections of beach for Western Snowy Plover

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. --

Vandenberg will implement partial closures of Surf, Wall and Minuteman beaches here beginning Friday, March 1, as part of its annual program to protect the Western Snowy Plover and its nesting habitat.

Under the Endangered Species Act the US Fish and Wildlife Service's Biological Opinion requires the 30th Space Wing Commander to enforce restrictions on all three beaches annually, March 1 through Sept. 30, to protect the threatened Western Snowy Plover and its nesting habitat.

"By closing specific areas of the beach, we are mitigating some of the adverse effects of recreational beach use during the breeding season," said Samantha Kaisersatt, 30th Civil Engineer Squadron biological scientist. "We also manage predators and restore plover habitat in an effort to recover the snowy plover."

During this time, dogs, horses and kites are prohibited, and personnel are barred from entering the closed sections of the beaches.

Beach restriction 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.

Entry into posted closed beach areas counts as a violation. If violations exceed 50 for Surf Beach, 10 for Wall Beach, and 10 for Minuteman Beach, that entire beach will be closed for the remainder of the nesting season.

During plover season, the general public can still find plenty of beach access available at a designated portion of Surf Beach at the end of Highway 246. Recreational beach access is also available at portions of Wall Beach off 35th Street and Minuteman Beach on north base for the Vandenberg community.

Open hours at Surf Beach are from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. Beach access at Wall and Minuteman will continue to be allowed from sunrise to sunset.

To ensure continued access to these beaches, read and follow the rules on the posted signage to avoid violations and beach closure.