SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. - Monday marks the beginning of seasonal beach restrictions at three Santa Barbara County beaches which are put in place to protect the Western Snowy Plover and its nesting habitat.
Minuteman, Surf, and Wall beaches now have restrictions in place through Sept. 30.
The seasonal program is required by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service under the Endangered Species Act.
The public can still access much of Surf Beach but some areas are restricted.
"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,” said Col. Anthony Mastalir, 30th Space Wing commander.
The section of Surf Beach available for recreational access during the nesting season has not changed, but will remain open year-round.
Samantha Kaisersatt, 30th Civil Engineer Squadron biological scientist, said violations will be counted and people will need to stay out of posted restricted areas to ensure that the public is able to maintain beach access. Increased violations has led to temporary beach closures in the past
"Together we can protect Surf Beach for current and future generations in our local community," Kaisersatt said. "A trail is available to walk between Surf Beach and Ocean Park behind the restricted nesting area for all to enjoy and plans are in place to construct a permanent boardwalk in the near future."
Entry into restricted areas at the beach could result in up to a $5,000 fine in federal court. Violators of the Endangered Species act, including damaging eggs or injuring chicks, could face up to $50,000 in fines and up to one year in prison.
“We protect the snowy plover by restricting specific areas of the beaches, managing predators, and restoring plover habitat to compensate for the effects of recreational beach use during the breeding season," said Kaisersatt.
Beach restrictions also include the prohibition of dogs, horses and kites, Kaiseratt said.
To ensure continued access to these beaches, we ask that the community take care of our beaches and abide by the requirements so we can maintain recreational access for everyone. Continue to read and follow the rules on the posted signage to avoid violations and beach closure.Vandenberg Air Force Base
Surf Beach is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. Beach access at Wall Beach and Minuteman Beach is allowed from sunrise to sunset.