VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. — Annual restrictions to protect western snowy plover nests went into effect Monday on three beaches at Vandenberg Air Force Base.
The restrictions will be in effect on Surf, Wall and Minuteman beaches through Sept. 30, the central coast base said in a statement.
“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 Pacific coast population of the tiny shorebird is listed as a threatened species.
The western snowy plover’s diminutive size and the colors of its feathers camouflage its presence and eggs laid in shallow depressions in the sand can easily go unnoticed and be trampled.
“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 Samantha Kaisersatt, 30th Civil Engineer Squadron biological scientist. “Beach restrictions also include the prohibition of dogs, horses and kites.”
Entering a restricted area can lead to fines up to $5,000. Crushing eggs or chicks is punishable by fines up to $50,000 and as much as a year in prison.
Vandenberg, best known for rocket launches, has 42 miles (67.5 kilometers) of shoreline.