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Pismo Preserve shuts down amid rise in COVID-19 cases

Posted at 11:26 PM, Dec 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-11 17:03:07-05

With a growing number of COVID-19 cases in San Luis Obispo County and a regional stay at home order in effect, the Land Conservancy has decided to temporarily shut down the Pismo Preserve.

Beginning Friday, Dec. 11, trails and facilities will be shut down to the public.

According to San Luis Obispo County Land Conservancy Executive Director, Kaila Dettman, the Conservancy put a warning out last week stating that they were considering closure.

"...When the stay at home order was put out we decided it was time...time to close it," she said.

According to Dettman, a lack of compliance ultimately led to the closure.

"The states orders are very clear, have a mask on you at all times and when you are in 6 feet of somebody...we just really weren't seeing that compliance," she said.

San Luis Obispo County resident Marc Johnston said he is disappointed that the trail is closing, but is not surprised.

"I love seeing all the people here and their families, but a lot of them don't follow the rules...they either dump their trash or they go the wrong way on the one way trails and they are not paying attention," Johnston said.

The Land Conservancy set up one way trails and increased staffing to maintain trails and restrooms, but even with the changes, they were still running into issues.

"When you have so many people flocking to the property and many of them are not following the guidelines it just increases risk... especially in the parking lot, restrooms and facilities," Kaila Dettman said.

Reaction from the community has been mixed.

Hiker Mary-Ellen Latino said she understands why the closure it happening, but is "disappointed" because it is an outdoor activity.

Nipomo resident and mountain biker, Jeff Lenay, said he is indifferent to the closure, and will use other trails in the meantime.

"...Just too many people together so I totally understand why they are doing it," he said.

Kaila Dettman says her team did not take the decision lightly.

"We just really felt like it was something we needed to do in this moment to protect our board, staff, volunteers, and the general public," Dettman said.

The Preserve will be closed for three weeks in accordance with state guidelines. The Land Conservancy will re-evaluate the closure in the coming month.

The Conservancy will also be closing their other properties and facilities including the Octagon Barn Center in San Luis Obiso and Kathleen's Canyon Overlook on the Nipomo Mesa.