It didn’t take long for Col. Anthony Mastalir, who took command of the 30th Space Wing at Vandenberg Air Force Base in July, to get involved in one of the biggest hot-button issues affecting both the base and its neighboring city of Lompoc. Mastalir said he was told before taking command about the tensions surrounding the Western snowy plover protections that have been enforced annually for 20 years at Surf Beach, the closest publicly accessible shoreline to Lompoc. Those protections for the bird species, which has been labeled as “threatened” by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, have often led to partial or even full closures of the beach throughout the area’s warmest months. Watch this portion of Col. Mastalir meeting with area press this Thursday.

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