Let's keep Plovers safe, beaches open
By Col. Keith Balts, 30th Space Wing commander
/ Published February 27, 2014
VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- The first of March marks the beginning of the snowy plover nesting season which means a portion of the beaches along our coastline will be closed; however, that also means a significant part of the beaches will still remain open for our Vandenberg AFB members and neighboring communities. We will all continue to have access to our beautiful beaches and ocean, as long as we adhere to the regulations.
The Western Snowy Plover is a tiny shorebird listed as threatened by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and nests on Vandenberg beaches from March 1 through Sept. 30 each year. To aid the species' recovery, portions of Vandenberg's beaches are closed and/or access is restricted during the bird's nesting season.
The closures are designed to protect the few remaining snowy plovers from human impacts during the critical nesting period. Simply walking too close to a nest will flush the adult and expose the eggs to predators. Dogs also cause plovers to leave their nests and they can also catch and kill chicks.
This closure is mandated by Fish and Wildlife and we at Vandenberg work hard to meet those mandates, while also striving to keep the beaches open.
The general public can still find beach access at a 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 base community. To ensure continued access to these beaches, I ask that you observe and read the posted signage to avoid violations and ultimately beach closure.
Every entry into closed areas counts as a violation of beach restrictions. If a specified violation limit is exceeded at a particular beach, that entire beach will be closed for the remainder of the nesting season, per the regulations issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Violation limits have been imposed for Surf beach (50), which is open to the public; Wall Beach (10); and Minuteman Beach (10).
To make sure we can have continued access to the beach, please keep out of posted closed beach and dune areas, look for the fences and signs indicating temporary closures, and observe the posted signage to avoid violations leading to beach closure.
We want our community to enjoy this beautiful coastline so we ask that you enjoy the beach and follow the guidelines so all of us can continue to have access to the beach year round. See you at the beach.