Snowy plover violations continue to rise at Surf Beach near Lompoc, putting the area at risk for temporary closure.
In years past, Surf Beach has been closed to protect the threatened snowy plover during its nesting season.
Last year, Lompoc Councilman Jim Mosby filed a petition to remove the annual beach closure period and was successful.
But there’s still a chance it could be shut down if too many people continue to break the rules.
Mosby says most people who get fined simply lack awareness of the situation.
"Being down there in one day in a short amount of time I had to stop four people from entering into the zone. They didn't know. They were out-of-town people," he said.
The little bird’s breeding season typically starts in March and continues through the end of September.
Clarice Armstrong is a frequent beach-goer and says people who get fined are typically from out of town.
"If I'm here on a weekend, I also always see somebody getting ticketed," she said.
Lompoc city officials say there have been about 130 violations this year, which is twice the amount that would normally trigger a closure.
Officials at Vandenberg Air Force Base say the last thing they want to do is close the beach completely.
In a statement, 30th Space Wing Commander Anthony Mastalir said, "We are absolutely committed to preserving our coastal habitats at the same time we maximize beach access, and I believe we can do both."
"I would hate to see if they close it but I do understand if it has to be temporary. This is where I come to de-stress and there aren't too many other places besides just walking in the neighborhood that you can get out and connect with nature," Armstrong said.
Officials are asking people who visit Surf Beach to be aware of their surroundings and pay attention to closure signs around the area.
Violators can be fined up to $5,000 and people caught crushing eggs or chicks can face fines up to $50,000 and jail time.