Surf Beach and the Snowy Plover

Surf Beach, a beautiful, untamed stretch of coastline, is our local beach and possesses a rather unique history. From race track, to train station, to city, and back to undeveloped sand dunes, it is home to many shore birds, including the Western Snowy Plover.  The impact this small seemingly insignificant bird has had on Surf Beach is almost as great as the train station that is again in existence above the dunes today.

A modest, tiny shore bird, The Western Snowy Plover is approximately six inches in length with grey, brown upper plumage and white under plumage.  It primarily forages for small invertebrates in wet or dry beach-sand and among tide-cast kelp.  The birds nest in the dunes with a breeding season March through September and nests typically host three small eggs.  The parents share in the incubation duties but unlike many other birds, within hours of the eggs hatching, the small fledglings will leave the nest in search of food.  

In 1993 this unassuming, small bird was listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act and has since become the fulcrum point for Surf Beach visitation seven months of the year.  As Surf Beach is on Federal property, strict interpretation and enforcement of the Endangered Species Act has been observed.  During the nesting season of March 1st to September 30th each year, only a 1/2 mile of the coastline at Surf Beach is open to the public.  No fishing, kite flying, dogs, bonfires or camping are allowed on the beach and the dunes are off limits during this time period as well.  The number of violations allowed each season before the beach is closed completely to the public is limited to 50 and can be as vague as a set of footprints in the off limit areas.  Thankfully beach closures and limitations are just one aspect of Vandenberg AFB’s management program for the recovery of this species.  Others include predator management and habitat restoration through the removal of nonnative plant species. 

With all this focus on the recovery program at Surf Beach some are surprised to find the Western Snowy Plover’s habitat extends along the West Coast from Washington through Baja Mexico and beyond.  Indeed, many contend the bird is not truly threatened and cite reliable sources, information and data.  An appeal has been submitted to USF&WS to delist the bird but to date no response has been received.  It is not, however, our position at this time to debate the fairness or accuracy of the listing or the measurements taken by VAFB mandated through the ESA.  Rather, we are asking everyone to observe the rules in place and help keep our beach open all year so that we may enjoy the beauty of this untamed area in its natural glory.  Currently, after just one month, violations are listed at 9 of the 50 allowed for the season.  If they continue at this rate complete access to Surf Beach will be lost again prior to the end of the nesting season.  

Truly, whether you believe the bird is threatened or whether you agree with the restrictions, we strongly believe we should always strive to be better stewards of our incredible planet and work to live side by side with nature everyday, not just seven months of the year. 



The Surf Connection.  To some it is a business, others a brand, a few a job, and to some just a name.  To us it is family, it is community, it is our life.  If you have already joined us on our journey we thank you.  If you are just joining, we welcome you.  If you are undecided, we hope you will join us. 

Our story began in April of 1991 when we agreed to purchase a struggling business that had been in town since 1986.  My husband, a surfer, saw much potential.  I, the number cruncher saw a challenge.  Together we decided to dream.  Our first year saw us welcome our second child, grow from one employee to three, and soon we out grew the storefront we started in.   Those early days we had three brands of shoes, two brands of sunglasses, and half a dozen skate decks.  It was very challenging to acquire lines as most companies had never heard of Lompoc, however, the community support was amazing.  And so we persevered.

We have now had the store for over 24 years, will be celebrating our 25th year in business in Lompoc and have made many wonderful friends.  We have watched children grow up shopping in the store with their parents who now bring their own young families in to shop and visit.  We hear stories about people connecting in far away places because of wearing a Surf Connection t-shirt, sweatshirt or hat.   We have had the opportunity to work with Lompoc Parks & Rec to make the skatepark a reality and have subsequently assisted with the skateboard competitions for the past 15 years.  We have been blessed in so many ways on this incredible journey and we wish to share some of these with you, our reader.  

Join us here, in the weeks and months ahead as we share some of the things we love about our business, our brand, our philosophy and our awesome community.  And remember, save a plastic tree.