For many who’ve lived in Lompoc, Surf Beach is a place of memories.
“I took the kids there all the time, they were able to swim and play and picnic and it’s just heartbreaking to us that it’s lost,” said Lompoc resident Lisa Grossi.
Getting on to Surf Beach has become more limited due to Vandenberg Air Force Base having to protect the Snowy Plovers.
“We manage the species on base by having areas that are open for recreational use and closed for recreational use as well as we do monitoring of the species throughout the year, predator management, and habitat restoration,” explained U.S. Air Force Biologist Samantha Kaisersatt.
A good portion of the Snowy Plovers’ habitats have disappeared due to overdevelopment of the California coast. The base has now been tasked by the federal government to check for violations in closed off areas to ensure the birds have a safe nesting season.
“One of the biggest misconceptions is that we do it because we love the plover when really that’s not the case. We are required to abide by federal law and so the base is just maintaining compliance with federal law and doing our part towards the recovery of the species,” Kaisersatt said.
People like Grossi however would like to see the base do more by possibly installing a fence that would surround the birds area giving more space for visitors to wander. She’s hoping the folks at VAFB would be open to starting a dialogue with the public to see how they can create a balance of recreation and protection.
“You know it’d be great if we could put up a bird type fence and of course unfortunately somebody’s always gonna break the rules but at least the families could go out there and have something more to do in Lompoc and get outdoors.”
Kaisersatt says something similar to an enclosure has been tried in the past and it still wasn’t conducive to the birds. She’d like to see more people get involved in keeping the beach open by volunteering to become a docent.
“We need people out here educating and informing people on what the beach restrictions are and why they’re important.”
Surf Beach will remain closed until October 1st.