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CA State Parks looks to improve air quality around Oceano Dunes– but it could impact camping and riding spaces

Posted at 11:14 PM, Jul 02, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-03 02:19:40-04

California State Parks is looking at how to improve air quality around the Oceano Dunes.

State representatives met with community members Tuesday to go over a new plan that could impact riders.

They want the public to weigh in on the content and scope of the project as it pertains to the upcoming Environmental Impact Report (EIR).

This discussion is separate from the California Coastal Commission’s recommendation to take away hundreds of camping spots.

Many people frustrated about more changes proposed at the Oceano Dunes– this time to address air quality and dust control.

One woman wants to know how off-highway vehicle (OHV) riders will be protected if the riding area is smaller.

“When you take a recreation area and you install fencing and other measures and close off areas that change, there is a safety consideration,” said Lyndi Love-Haning, a Nipomo Mesa resident. “So I asked will there be a rider safety study.”

The four-year plan covers about 1,500 acres of the Oceano Dunes State Park.

It would mean planting more vegetation, installing seasonal dust control measures like wind fencing and tracking sand remnants in surrounding communities. 

The SLO County Air Pollution Control District is looking at ways to lessen dust particles at the front of the beach rather than the back by implementing foredunes.

“We need to change the way the wind comes over instead of just pushing through and pushing the sand,” said Gary Willie, SLO County Air Pollution Control District executive director.

If approved, the plan would permanently convert nearly 130 acres of open land many use for camping and riding to vegetation.

“Our hope is that the riding will be able to occur behind that area and you can camp in front of it,” said Willie.

Many questioned the scope of the project.

“Why aren’t we broadening the area we look at,” asked Greg Cottrell, an Arroyo Grande resident. “We have the refinery, we have a lot of area in between the Nipomo Mesa and the Oceano dunes.”

Preliminary state data already shows a decrease of particulate matter in the air from existing mitigation efforts.

State Parks says it is looking to find a balance for everyone.

“If the mitigations don’t provide enough benefit to the project or the program or the air quality issues we are looking to address then we will move forward,” said Kevin Pearce, Oceano Dunes State Parks chief ranger.

Though some are still wondering about the long term effects, the impact to camping permits and preservation of the threatened snowy plovers that use the dunes as a breeding site.

“Off-roaders, yes we need to be flexible, we need to look at the thing,” said Cottrell. “People in the community of the Nipomo Mesa, they can’t dig their heels on one matter. I think if we all come together and we all talk I think we can do some great things.

State Parks is still collecting comments before an EIR gets underway which you can send to:

  • Mr. Ronnie Glick, Senior Environmentalist Scientist 
    • 340 James Way, Ste. 270, Pismo Beach CA 93449
    • (Enter “Oceano Dunes SVRA PMRP NOP” in the subject line)

The deadline to submit written public comment is July 17 by 5 p.m. 

Click here to read the Notice of Preparation.

If approved, those mitigation projects could start as early as the winter of 2019.