Team effort maintains Vandenberg’s coastline

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Steve Bauer
  • 30th Space Wing Public Affairs
How does a base situated along more than 40 miles of coastline on California's Central Coast remain free from high concentrations of pollution and environmental issues?

For starters, neither one person, nor one organization at Vandenberg is employed solely to perform the work of a beach cleanup taskforce.

The answer, however, lies within a team effort.

Other than the everyday public's contributions, two of Vandenberg's entities significantly contribute to the upkeep of the base's coastline aside from their unit's primary responsibilities.

The 30th Security Forces Squadron's conservation law enforcement flight and the 30th Civil Engineer Squadron's environmental flight keep a close eye on the status of Vandenberg's beaches.

"Our beach management plan requires that we pick up trash in the open areas every couple of weeks, except after big storms," said Darryl York, a 30th CES environmental flight wildlife biologist. "The beaches here are remarkably free of trash."

Vandenberg's beach management plan is a regulatory document that directs the 30th CES environmental flight personnel to close Vandenberg's beaches during the western snowy plover nesting season.

"Vandenberg plays a critical role in the conservation of the western snowy plover," Mr. York said. "Over 20 percent of the population is found on Vandenberg beaches."

Vandenberg's beaches close once a year from March 1 to Sept. 30 for the tiny shorebird listed as threatened by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Enforcing the base's beach management plan and deterring people from polluting the Vandenberg coastline is one of the responsibilities of the 30th SFS conservation law enforcement flight.

"The conservation law enforcement officers work along with the environmental flight to keep the beaches clean and protected," said Senior Airman Lauren Daniels, a 30th SFS conservation law enforcement officer. "We are here not only to enforce the laws, but to also keep the public informed and educated before, during and after outdoor recreation on our beaches. Aside from the base regulations, state laws also apply to our waters. We will provide the base regulations, answer questions and identify different areas on a map for those people interested in using the coastline for recreation."

The conservation law enforcement officers conduct daily foot, horse and all terrain vehicle patrols along the beaches, except during the western snowy plover season, in order to protect the nesting of these shorebirds.

"There are many important aspects of the coastline here at Vandenberg," Airman Daniels said. "Aside from the Snowy Plover nesting habitat, there is also a large stretch of the coast that is a California State Marine Reserve. The Environmental Flight along with the State of California have identified many species that are delicate, protected or even endangered that need to have their habitat kept intact for their survival needs."

Even though Vandenberg's environmental flight and conservation law enforcement flight help with the upkeep of the coastline here, they wouldn't be able to maintain such a vast area without the help of the public.

"It is important for beach goers to preserve the coastline so that others will be able to enjoy a beautiful coastline," said Airman Daniels. "It takes everyone's help to keep the beaches in good shape."