At what point does environmental concern become a threat to the environmentalism itself? When it’s mixed with hypocrisy, for starters.

I find myself asking this question after certain parts of Sands Beach were closed to protect the western snowy plovers during their nesting season from intrusion by humans, seagulls, dogs, coyotes, feral cats and anything that isn’t a western snowy plover.

I support the protection of any endangered species. I only object when the boundaries set for protection make life worse for the critters.

Consider Cristina Sandoval, the director of Coal Oil Point Reserve, and her efforts to limit access to parts of Sands Beach and the Ellwood trails – all in the name of protecting the poor plover.

Sandoval has managed to get UCSB to restrict access to many places once accessible to surfers, picnickers, runners and equestrians. She also wants to extend the “ecologically sensitive area” as far as the UCSB horse stables and out to the dirt jumps behind Ocean Meadows Golf Course. She’s torn down the jumps built on the desert-like area along the asphalt road – known to locals as the “Grand Canyon” and very popular with mountain bikers and BMX racers such as myself – to promote growth of vegetation. Historically, vegetation has never existed in that region.

Then there’s the removal of non-native species of plants that protected certain areas from erosion by acting as wind breaks.

I have to question the science and intentions of Sandoval, especially when I look at certain facts, historical and otherwise.

Her plan to protect the plovers on the Deveroux Slough has a slight design flaw: it puts a path right through the protected area. To get to the beach from the horse stables you have to go through an area deemed off-limits, meaning you get to face the screaming and tearful antics of Sandoval or her docents.

Extending the ecologically sensitive area to the horse stables and the back of Ocean Meadows Golf Course is ridiculous. There never was any vegetation on that plot of land behind the golf course, so how can you restore it?

I really question Sandoval’s living arrangement on the edge of what used to be considered an ecologically sensitive area. This behemoth of a structure – her home – has definitely displaced some native species of plants and wildlife as it trespasses into the environmentally sensitive area. Then there’s the question as to why native species of plants were cut down so that an ocean view could be afforded for said dwelling. Non-native species of plants were also added for decoration. We also can’t forget the floodlights that certainly don’t add to the nature of the area, and I heard that there’s even a Jacuzzi on the premises.

As if to top it all off, for security purposes the questionable areas are sometimes manned by arrogant, condescending and patronizing “docents” whose main goal in life is to alienate anyone who dares venture into the restricted zone.

It must be nice to claim a prime piece of beachfront just for yourself under the guise of western snowy plover protection. And these accommodations come with a hefty salary as well. As I said, it must be nice.

As for myself, I’ll respect the boundary set, but it will be a cold day in hell when my favorite trails are shut down just to appease pretentious pseudo-environmentalism.

We’ve enjoyed Sands Beach for many years, but I’ll make a deal with Sandoval. If she removes her massive house, floodlights, Jacuzzi and non-native plants, I’ll respect her plans.

If not, well, then expect the fight of a lifetime.

Henry Sarria is a longtime Isla Vista resident and a frequent contributor to the Daily Nexus.