All sections of Surf, Wall and Minuteman beaches were fully reopened to the public Sept. 23, four days ahead of the scheduled end of annually enforced restrictions put in place to protect the Western snowy plover, according to Vandenberg Space Force Base.
Boundary fences and signs at Lompoc's most accessible Surf Beach were removed in response to the confirmed fledging of plover chicks on Sept. 16 per biological opinion, officials said.
Under the Endangered Species Act, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's biological opinion requires the 30th Space Wing commander to enforce restrictions on all three beaches annually — from March 1 through Sept. 30 — to protect the threatened plover species.
Since all plover chicks had fledged by Sept. 16, according to VSFB officials, 30th Space Wing Cmdr. Col. Robert A. Long directed all beaches be reopened.
Certain restrictions still apply during the fall and winter seasons that include:
- No littering, including fishing bait and fish remains
- No pets off-leash
- No camping
- No beach fires
- No fireworks
- No kite flying
- No feeding wildlife
- No horses or ATVs, except for authorized enforcement personnel
Lifeguards are not present at the beaches, so beachgoers are encouraged to never swim alone and to always remain cognizant of surroundings.
Surf Beach is open daily from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wall and Minuteman beaches are open daily from sunrise to sunset.
Photos: Surf Beach providing refuge for Lompoc community amid coronavirus crisis
Surf Beach remains one of the few public spaces that people can still visit amid all the shelter-in-place recommendations that have been made by public health officials. But just like at La Purisima Mission State Historic Park — another popular Lompoc Valley outdoor space — visitors are advised to be responsible and adhere to public health guidance while utilizing the 1.25 miles of accessible coastline.Since it is on Vandenberg Air Force Base property, the beach is patrolled and monitored by docents and airmen with the 30th Space Wing.Col. Anthony Mastalir, commander of the 30th Space Wing, acknowledged that the beach can be a particularly effective respite for people who may be dealing with added anxiety due to the ongoing pandemic.“This is a stressful and hectic time for everyone,” Mastalir said. “We are experiencing something completely unprecedented in our lifetimes. Part of getting through this together is making sure we are taking care of ourselves physically, mentally and emotionally. Walking on the beach and getting outside can help alleviate stress and be a great retreat for some.”
The estuary at Ocean Beach Park was closed on Friday, less than two days after it reopened, after Vandenberg Air Force Base officials called Santa Barbara County Parks and requested that it remained closed due to wildlife habitat and security concerns, according to an official.
Seasonal restrictions designed to protect the Western snowy plover and its nesting habitat went into effect Monday for several beaches at Vandenberg Air Force Base.
Access to the estuary at Ocean Beach Park near Lompoc opened for public recreation Thursday for the first time in nearly four decades.
Accessing the estuary near Ocean Beach Park has been restricted to the public for as long as many Lompoc residents can remember but will reopen to water recreation activities for the first time in decades next month.
Lompoc City Manager Jim Throop, who played a significant role in having Surf Beach kept open for recreational access throughout the 2020 breeding season for the federally-protected Western snowy plover, warned this week that people were continuing to disturb the nesting areas of the bird species and that the beach's status could once again be in jeopardy.