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Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on December 18th, 2019, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 20, Issue 42 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 20, Issue 42

Coastal Commission supports new Surf Beach plan

By Zac Ezzone

This past summer was the first time in almost two decades that Surf Beach was guaranteed to remain open throughout the Western snowy plover breeding season, regardless of the number of trespass violations recorded.


REMAINING OPEN
The California Coastal Commission supports Vandenberg Air Force Base’s decision to no longer fully close Surf Beach due to trespass violations during Western snowy plover breeding seasons.
FILE PHOTO BY JAYSON MELLOM

Since 2000, Vandenberg Air Force Base officials have blocked off sections of Surf Beach to protect the bird—which is listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act—during its breeding season from March through September. Every time a person enters these blocked-off sections, a violation is recorded. Until now, if 50 violations were recorded in one year, the entire beach would close until the end of the season. 

In October, the city of Lompoc released a statement announcing that Vandenberg Air Force Base and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agreed to end this policy of closing the beach after 50 violations. At its meeting on Dec. 13, the California Coastal Commission unanimously agreed with the decision.

“Vandenberg Air Force Base and the California Coastal Commission are listening to the community, recognizing Surf Beach’s history and importance to Lompoc, and improving the beach and local access to it, all while protecting the Western snowy plover,” Lompoc Mayor Jenelle Osborne said in the October statement.

Earlier this year, Vandenberg submitted a beach management plan to the commission outlining the continuation of these beach restrictions through 2023. The commission was set to vote on the plan at a meeting in May, but it delayed the decision after Osborne arrived at the meeting with a letter from the city stating how the current plan negatively affects the city and its residents. 

During the Dec. 13 meeting, Larry Simon, federal consistency coordinator with the Coastal Commission’s Energy, Ocean Resources, and Federal Consistency Division, said local, state, and federal agencies met at Surf Beach in July to better understand the beach restrictions and how they limit beach access to Lompoc residents. When Surf Beach is closed, the nearest public beaches to the city are Jalama and Gaviota, which are both about 20 miles away.

Simon said this new plan is an experiment that will continue for the duration of the beach management plan until 2023, unless it’s determined the plover population is adversely affected. Vandenberg and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will review 2019 plover monitoring data in January.

“The Air Force absolutely retains the authority to close the beach to the public should this experiment result in unacceptable increases in violations and/or adverse effects to plovers or plover habitat,” Simon said. 

During the commission’s December meeting, Osborne said the city is working on educational programs to inform students and city residents of these changes and the responsibility they have to protect the birds while visiting the beach.

“We’re working within the city to do presentations at our council meetings [and] at some local neighborhood events, so that everyone can better understand what this change is about and what our commitment as a community will be regarding that,” Osborne said.










Weekly Poll
What type of vegetable would you grow in a free community garden?

Brussel Sprouts, they are the best.
Broccoli because it can go with any meal.
Tomatoes, although I think those are technically a fruit.
French fries!

| Poll Results






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