Vandenberg officials have closed sections of Surf, Wall, and Minuteman beaches to provide nesting for Snowy Plover season.
Beach restrictions are enforced annually on all three beaches from March 1 to September 30 to protect the Western Snowy Plover and its habitat. The bird is listed as a threatened species in the Endangered Species Act.
“It’s a priority to protect the snowy plover by enforcing beach closures and habitat restoration to reduce negative effects of recreational beach use during their season of breeding,” said Samantha Kaisersatt, 30th Civil Engineer Squadron biological scientist. “Dogs, horses and kites are prohibited during this time.”
Although only sections of these beaches has been closed off, there is a potential for a complete beach closure if the number of violations reach their limit. Seasonal beach violations are limited to 50 for Surf Beach, 10 for Wall Beach, and 10 for Minuteman Beach.
If the violation limit is reached at a particular beach, that entire beach will close for the remainder of the nesting season. Entry into any posted closed area counts as a violation.
Violators may be fined up to $5,000. Violators of the Endangered Species Act can face fines up to $50,000 in federal court and imprisonment for up to one year. Violations vary from entering a posted area to crushing eggs or chicks.
During plover season, visitors can still access the beach through varies entry points for recreational purposes. Surf Beach can be accessed at the end of Highway 246. Wall Beach can be accessed off 35th Street. And Minuteman Beach can be accessed on North base for the Vandenberg community.