Dozens of residents and recreators gathered on opposite sides of the South County Community Center on Wednesday for a public workshop on the “workable plan” to reduce dust emissions from the Oceano Dunes.
There is hope of compromise but that will still be a large hill to climb, highlighted by the red worn by residents and blue worn by recreators.
Scientist Dr. Ian Walker of Arizona State University worked on crunching the data over the years. It found riding the dunes does impact the air and dust. Walker says vegetation will be the most effective dust control measure — a proposal in the plan to cut dust emissions in half by 2023.
“The emissions in the 10 highest days scenario came from the open riding areas and that translates to 150 tons which is a lot of material per day,” he said.
That plan would currently affect about 500 acres, which is subject to change. Those plans include converting wind fences to vegetation cover, installing seasonal wind fencing, and hiring a project manager to oversee the process.
From residents, the presentation was met with optimism.
“We’re willing to work in that time limit because in the end, we want clean air. Nipomo Mesa is a wonderful place to live but the air we suffer from is very bad,” said resident Paul Stolpman. He says he doesn’t want riding shut down.
But for Friends of Oceano Dunes, there is a concern that compromise could mean a cap in available acres.
“Friends of Oceano Dunes take a no-net loss philosophy,” Jim Suty, the president of the group said. “If you close an acre, you open an acre. We’ve offered solutions to the dust that they need to take seriously, about mitigating dust with minimal acreage being closed.”
All comments from Wednesday’s meeting will be posted to SLOCleanAir.org in the coming days.
The Air Pollution Control District will review and approve the work plan or send it back to the state parks for further review with any changes