by Staff Sgt. Erica Picariello
30th Space Wing Public Affairs
2/27/2013 - VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- The
Vandenberg Natural Resources Office has strengthened their effort to
protect a small threatened species' habitat by charging base personnel
and local community members to act as docents beginning March 1.
Vandenberg restricts access to all three beaches on base property
annually from March 1 through Sept. 30 during the Western Snowy Plover's
nesting season, to protect its nests and young.
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a docent is an educator,
and the word comes from the Latin word, "Docere," meaning, "To teach."
These volunteer docents will do just that - educate beach goers about
plover nesting areas and beach rules that change the plover's nesting
season, according to the base biological scientist.
"The beach docents will be trained volunteers who maintain a level of
expertise about the species and its habitat," said Samantha Kaisersatt,
Vandenberg Biological Scientist. "Anybody, military or civilian, can
volunteer to be a docent. They will be on the beach, offering
information to visitors and letting them know what areas are
Each year, Vandenberg restricts access to certain sections of the beach where this threatened species likes to nest.
"The Pacific Coast population of the Western Snowy Plover breeds on
coastal beaches from southern Washington to Southern Baja California,
Mexico," Kaisersatt said. "Preferred breeding habitats include sand
spits, dune-backed beaches, unvegetated beach strands, open areas around
estuaries, and beaches at river mouths."
Vandenberg is allowed a specific number of violations, which includes
entry into any posted closed area, before the beach is closed for the
remainder of the season.
Last year, Surf Beach reached 50 violations, its maximum, by July 20.
Wall beach was also on the brink of closing with nine out of the 10
Kaisersatt believes the beach violations can be reduced with these
docents patrolling the beaches, increasing awareness about beach rules
during the nesting season.
"The volunteer docents will help protect the snowy plovers and increase
public awareness," Kaisersatt said. "Docents play an important role in
the survival and recovery of this species while helping to maintain
Anyone wishing to become a Western Snowy Plover docent can call Samantha Kaisersatt at 805-605-0392.