City Of Lompoc Successfully Advocates For Public Beach Access
Surf Beach expected to be open the entire snowy plover breeding season
LOMPOC, CA, Oct. 3, 2019 – The City of Lompoc is pleased to share that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has permitted Vandenberg Air Force Base (VAFB) to keep Surf Beach open to recreational access for the entire western snowy plover breeding season, regardless of the number of trespass violations.
VAFB personnel will continue to track trespass violations on Surf Beach, and together with USFWS, will determine if beach closures need to be re-implemented in the future, due to substantial risks to the western snowy plover population. However, Surf Beach is expected to remain open during next summer’s western snowy plover breeding season, which runs annually from March 1 through Sept. 30.
Since 2001, Surf Beach has been closed to the public after 50 trespass violations occur per breeding season.
At the California Coastal Commission’s May 9 meeting in Oxnard, Lompoc Mayor Jenelle Osborne presented a letter to the commission on behalf of the City of Lompoc, outlining ongoing adverse effects on City of Lompoc residents stemming from the beach’s public access restrictions. Before the start of the hearing, commission representatives, VAFB officials and City of Lompoc officials discussed the letter, and VAFB agreed to postpone the hearing to a future commission meeting in order for the parties to consider the points made in the city’s letter.
After further consideration, working with the City of Lompoc, USFWS, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the County of Santa Barbara, VAFB in August 2019 proposed to eliminate trespass violation closures of Surf Beach. USFWS announced it has determined based on VAFB’s continuing law enforcement and docent patrols at Surf Beach and Ocean Park, effects from recreation at Surf Beach would remain within an acceptable biological level.
VAFB plans to continue to keep records of illegal trespassers and issue citations at Surf Beach, and will determine, in conjunction with the Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office, if the open beach access creates a troubling surge in trespass violations and substantial negative effects on the snowy plover population. Based on these findings, The USFWS will decide whether the beach access changes may be implemented on a long-term basis.
Mayor Osborne is encouraged by USFWS allowing VAFB to initiate keeping Surf Beach open to the public year-round.
“I am excited and very hopeful for the future of Surf Beach,” she said. “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. The base’s proposal to eliminate the 50-violation beach closure next summer, and the Fish and Wildlife Service accepting the request, is a major milestone for our community.”
Osborne continued, “I am confident that the Lompoc community will partner with Vandenberg to respect the restrictions that will remain, and avoid trespassing on the nesting areas. We will proudly protect the beach, the birds, and our coast with improved access, because Surf Beach is Lompoc’s beach.”