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Violations temporarily close Wall Beach

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Base leadership has ordered the temporary closure of Wall Beach here for a two-week period, July 21 to Aug. 4, due to beach access violations during the Western Snowy Plover breeding season.

Portions of Vandenberg's beaches, including Wall, Surf and Minuteman, close March 1 through Sept. 30 every year to aid in the recovery of the Western Snowy Plover, a shorebird listed as threatened by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

"While the closure is temporary, we are only three violations away from having to close Wall Beach for the rest of the season (until Oct. 1)," said Thomas Devenoge, the 30th Civil Engineer Squadron Environmental Section chief. "Wall Beach compliance is not normally a problem because the beachgoers generally live or work on base and are rule-followers. Unfortunately it only takes a few people not paying attention to ruin it for everyone else. The closure is intended to refocus attention on the rules, emphasize that they are not optional and that violations carry real consequences for not only violators, but also those of us who follow the rules. The wing commander directed a similar pre-emptive closure last year at Minuteman Beach. When the beach reopened, there were no additional violations and the beach stayed open for the rest of the season. The same result can be achieved at Wall Beach, but it takes effort from everyone. Follow the rules. If you see someone not doing so, ask them to comply or we all lose beach access."

Just like the current situation at Wall Beach, if any of Vandenberg's beaches reaches its limit of violations, all sections of the beach will be off-limits to the public until Sept. 30. The maximum beach access violations are 10 for Minuteman Beach, 10 for Wall Beach and 50 for Surf Beach.

"Although the reason for the recent violations is unknown, usually complacency and inattentiveness are factors, and unfortunately, sometimes attitude," said Mr. Devenoge. "People go to the beach to unwind and rules and regulations can be an afterthought. Although signage is always being improved, prevention often comes in the form of one-on-one human interaction. People who use the beaches the most are also those who best understand the rules because they are most affected by beach closure. There are those who decide, because they don't like the rules, the rules do not apply to them, or the rules are not a big deal. Challenge these people when you meet them because they are risking your continued beach access."

Failure to comply with restrictions is a violation of federal law and may result in fines and penalties. Fines can reach up to $50,000 and penalties can be as much as more than one year in jail.

For more information about Wall Beach's closure or to report violators on any of Vandenberg's beaches, call the conservation office at 606-6804, or the law enforcement desk at 606-3911. For more information about the western snowy plover, call The 30th Civil Engineer Squadron Natural Resources Office at 605-0392.