Surf Beach will stay open to the public during snowy plover nesting season next year, regardless of the number of trespass violations.
The City of Lompoc made the announcement on Thursday.
Usually,Surf Beach closes if there are more than 50 violations during breeding season because snowy plovers are protected under the Endangered Species Act. That act mandates three California beaches to close from March 1 to Sept. 30 to protect the threatened bird.
According to the city, VAFB will continue to track trespass violations on Surf Beach and it will decide alongside with U.S. Fish and Wildlife if the beach needs to be closed if there is substantial risk to the snowy plovers.
The closure of the beach has sparked controversy for many years amongst residents.
Lompoc City Councilman Jim Mosby filed a petition earlier this year for the removal of the annual beach closure period. He said it is important for people to have access to the beach all year and that there is a way for ‘snowy plovers and people can get along together.’
Conversationalist said the closure is important to give snowy plovers a chance to nest and repopulate.
Lompoc Mayor Jenelle Osborne was one of the city officials pushing to keep the beach opened all year. She said this change is a milestone for the community.
“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.”
She said she still expects the community to respect the snowy plovers.
“We will proudly protect the beach, the birds, and our coast with improved access, because Surf Beach is Lompoc’s beach,” Osborne said.
In September VAFB proposed adding a boardwalk at Surf Beach to help improve the area.
The California Coastal Commission is expected to make a decision in December.